What is a Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC)
A Stipulated Order of Continuance of SOC is a contract between a defendant and a Prosecuting Attorney. If the defendant completes the requirements of the contract then the prosecutor will generally move to dismiss the case at the end of the designated period of time, generally between 12-24 months. There are some reasons you may want to enter into an SOC but also many reasons to NOT agree to an SOC. It is important to note that everyone entering into an SOC admits they are guilty by stipulating to the facts contained within the police report. Many inexperienced attorneys attempt to quickly entice their clients into agreeing to an SOC. However, SOC's can have negative consequences for years to come. A SOC is simply a contract, and there is a big difference between a good contract and a bad one.
Reasons you may NOT want to agree to an SOC.
1. Divorce, Child Custody or Family Law Proceedings: If you are currently undergoing a divorce, child custody battle or any other family law proceeding you may not want to enter into a SOC with the prosecutor. If you Stipulate to the facts contained in the police report then that admission can be used against you in the family law court and will almost certainly have adverse consequences in your divorce or family law proceeding.
2. Unreasonable Domestic Violence Treatment Requirements: Agreeing to years of treatment due to a minor incident is not in your best interest. Attending months or years of Domestic Violence treatment due to a minor incident is unreasonable and unjust.
3. Unreasonable Alcohol/Substance Treatment Requirements: Subjecting yourself to months or years of alcohol treatment and random urine analysis may not be warranted based on the facts of your case. If you agree to these requirements and then later test positive for alcohol or drugs you may be in violation of your SOC and automatically convicted.
4. Immigration Status: If you are on an H1B Visa, Green Card or undocumented then you may not want to sign an SOC. During the duration of an SOC you will be put on probation. This probationary status may impact your immigration status.
5. No Contact Orders: A prosecutor may impose a No Contact Order between you and your loved ones for an unreasonable duration of time. These No Contact Orders may last for part of all of the duration of the SOC.
CONCLUSION: A Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC) is simply a contraact between you and the prosecuting authority. There are good contracts and bad contracts. Having an experienced attorney negotiate any SOC is to your benefit as there are many pitfalls and possible downsides to an SOC depending on your situation.