Definitions of Dispositions

Some definitions of common dispositions made in criminal cases:

  • Alford vs. North Carolina Plea – When a defendant takes a plea “under Alford” he is pleading guilty because he believes it is in his best interest but does not admit guilt to the facts that the ADA puts on the record during the plea. An “Alford plea” usually does not affect the sentence; however, in some cases it is the practice of the DA to not accept a plea from a defendant who is not willing to accept responsibility for the crime. This determined on a case by case basis.
  • Negotiated vs. Non Negotiated Pleas – It is the practice of the District Attorney to offer a defendant a sentence recommendation based on the fact of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. A defendant, in some cases, may choose to plea guilty but not accept the sentence recommendation of the ADA. If the defendant does not accept the State’s recommended sentence, he or she may elect to take a non negotiated plea, more commonly know as “throwing oneself on the mercy of the court.” The judge has the final word in sentencing in a non negotiated plea.Whether or not a defendant can take a non negotiated plea is up to the discretion of the court. In some courts defendants are entitled to take a non negotiated plea, but reject the judge’s sentence if they do not like it and elect to go to trial instead.
  • DDOC or Dead Docket – means the State has decided not to go forward with the indictment. This occurs for a number of reasons, for example, the State may upgrade a charge and need to reindict a case and the older case number must be Dead Docketed. A dead docket can be removed by motion of the State.
  • PTI or Pre Trial Intervention – is a generic term for pretrial programs usually offered to defendants that do not have a criminal history. The decision to send a case to PTI rests with the ADA assigned to the case.
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