A “276 87” disposition is usually an excellent resolution to a criminal case. Basically, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276, section 87 allows for a criminal case to be dismissed, as long as defendant adheres to certain terms. In other words, under this law, a defendant is placed on probation for a certain period of time, and must adhere to certain terms and conditions. If defendant adheres to the terms and conditions, the case will be dismissed after the period of time is up.
Many times, the terms and conditions are simple, e.g., stay out of trouble for the next 3 months, and accordingly the case will be dismissed. If a person is not able to fulfill the terms and conditions, however, the case is put back on the docket.
The “276 87” is preferred over some other pre-trial diversions because the defendant does not have to admit to committing the offense or crime. For example, with a continuance without a finding (CWOF), the defendant has to admit to the facts being sufficient to prove defendant guilty. In other words, with the “276 87” the defendant does not have to admit to any wrong doing, in order to resolve the case.
Overall, the “276 87” is an excellent resolution to a criminal charge. Many times, however, obtaining a “276 87” can be very difficult or impossible. All the elements of the case need to align correctly, in order to get the coveted “276 87.”
Section 87. The superior court, any district court and any juvenile court may place on probation in the care of its probation officer any person before it charged with an offense or a crime for such time and upon such conditions as it deems proper, with the defendant’s consent, before trial and before a plea of guilty, or in any case after a finding or verdict of guilty; provided, that, in the case of any child under the age of 18 placed upon probation by the superior court, he may be placed in the care of a probation officer of any district court or of any juvenile court, within the judicial district of which such child resides; and provided further, that no person convicted under section twenty-two A, 22B, 22C, 24B or subsection (b) of section 50 of chapter two hundred and sixty-five or section thirty-five A of chapter two hundred and seventy-two shall, if it appears that he has previously been convicted under said sections and was eighteen years of age or older at the time of committing the offense for which he was so convicted, be released on parole or probation prior to the completion of five years of his sentence.