CWOF

CWOF, sounds like “Quoff”.

You will hear this term if you spend any time in the criminal court, and your lawyer or the prosecutor might mention it in relation to your case.

CWOF stands for “continued without a finding.” This is a way of resolving a criminal case that avoids a “guilty” finding, and ultimately ends with the charge dismissed.

A CWOF requires that you admit to “facts sufficient to support a finding of guilty.” In other words, you have to say that enough of what the prosecutor is accusing me of is true that a jury could find me guilty if they heard those facts at trial. In return for that admission, the judge agrees to continue the case without entering a finding and not enter a guilty finding.

A case is continued without a finding, or “cwof’ed,” for a period of time, such as six months, one year, or two years, during which time you are placed on probation. If you are successful in satisfying all of the probation conditions, and do not get charged with a new offense during that time period, the charge that has been “cwof’ed” is dismissed.

It is probation.

This probation is just like any other that you may be subject to in that there will be a monthly probation fee and you will have to abide by certain conditions. You may have other conditions and requirements depending upon your case.

On your criminal record, or CORI, the charge will show as “CWOF – open” during the period of the cwof. During that period, people such as employers and landlords can see the charge on your CORI report. Once it is dismissed, they generally will not see it anymore.

The obvious benefit of a CWOF is that you have an opportunity to avoid a conviction on your record. Ultimately, your charge will be dismissed, and you will always be able to answer the question “have you ever been convicted of a crime” with “no.”

Be careful.

The cautionary part is that you will be on probation for a time. If you violate the terms of your probation, the cwof can be changed to a “guilty” finding, and you can be sentenced to jail, at a probation violation hearing. You will not get a full trial by jury, and you will not have the same evidentiary and Constitutional protections that you would have at trial.