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This report summarizes the findings from an examination of how deferred disposition is used in Maine. This option typically involves the accused pleading guilty to a charge and agreeing to meet certain conditions over a period of time, commonly one year. If conditions are met, the case is either dismissed or the defendant is found guilty of a lesser crime than the one with which he/she was originally charged. A deferred disposition can also include a more favorable outcome for the defendant (eg., a fine instead of jail). If the terms are not met, the defendant is convicted of the charge to which he/she pled guilty.

There are a number of reasons for using deferred dispositions, including the desire to hold offenders accountable while sparing more stringent sanctions that have deleterious effects on recidivism. Deferral may also be used when victims are reluctant to cooperate with the prosecution, and it may be used as a solution to overcrowding.

This study was conducted by the Maine Statistical Analysis Center (Maine SAC) with the cooperation of the Maine Coalition Sexual Against Assault (MECASA) and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) to ascertain the impact of deferred disposition on future criminal activity, specifically among offenders who are given deferred dispositions for domestic violence and sexual assault offenses. Data for this study were obtained from the Maine District Attorneys Technical Services (MEDATS), the electronic repository for Maine district attorney data, and include variables related to deferral as well as prior and recidivating events. Because the database is specific to Maine, any prior or recidivating cases that occurred elsewhere are not captured in this study. Analysis was limited to cases deferred between 2014 and 2019, cases that were closed, and cases involving defendants 18 years of age and older at time of deferral. Because individuals can be deferred more than once, some defendants appear in the dataset more than once

Funding Organization

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Grant Number

BJS grant 2018-86-CX-K010



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