What in the world is a guilty file?

In Massachusetts a guilty finding is a pretty unique resolution to a case.  Essentially, a person is still found guilty, but there is no immediate sentence.  In order for the court to guilty file a charge, the judge needs the consent of both the defendant and the Commonwealth. 

 This type of sentence is most commonly seen when a defendant has several charges on the same docket.  If the defendant pleads out to the more severe charges, the Commonwealth will usually agree to guilty file the minor charges. 

 Technically, a defendant that has charges that have been guilty filed can be sentenced later on.  A defendant has the right to request sentencing on any filed charges at any time.  Obviously, unless there is some unique reason, most defendants will never request to be sentenced on a charge that has been guilty filed. 

The Commonwealth may request that a defendant be sentenced on a charge that has been filed for several reasons.  One way the prosecution may request sentencing is if a related conviction or sentence is reversed or vacated.  A second way is for the prosecution to prove that the defendant has committed a new offense.  Finally, the prosecution may request a sentence if the defendant has violated a condition that the filing was based upon. 

In Massachusetts, it is becoming more common to state when the charge will be guilty filed until.  On the new green sheets (sheets that are used by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike to write out plea deals) you will actually see an area in which you can write an end date for charges that are guilty filed.  Essentially, the Commonwealth has until that end date to request that a defendant be sentenced on a charge that has been guilty filed. 

Depending on the situation a guilty file could be a good way to resolve certain charges.  There are things that need to be kept in mind before trying to resolve your case in such a fashion.  Remember that a guilty file still counts as a conviction on your record.  Please don’t attempt to resolve your case without an experience professional. 

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For more information:

Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 28: Judgment http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/rules/criminal/crim28.html

For more information: visit http://www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This entry was too difficult for me to follow. But still very informative.

  2. Glad you found the information helpful. Guilty files are really an unique plea that is pretty confusing at times.

  3. thanks.. nice info

  4. Do you know if there is a SJC case that requires a termination date for guilty files?

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