Commonwealth v. MorganAnnotate this Case
Defendant, a veteran of the United States Army, was arraigned in the district court on charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OUI), second offense; possession of heroin; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; and leaving the scene of property damage. Defendant sought pretrial diversion under the VALOR Act. Defendant subsequently filed a motion pursuant to the pretrial diversion statute seeking dismissal of all charges should the pretrial diversion program prove successful. The prosecutor opposed the motion. Acknowledging that the case presented an unsettled question of law, the judge reported the following two questions to the Appeals Court. The Supreme Judicial Court allowed Defendant’s application for direct appellate review and held (1) under the pretrial diversion statute, as amended by the VALOR Act, a judge is authorized to dismiss or to continue criminal charges without a finding upon a defendant’s successful completion of an approved pretrial diversion program; and (2) the pretrial diversion statute, as amended by the VALOR Act, vests judges with discretion to either continue without a finding or to dismiss a charge of OUI in appropriate cases that involve charges of OUI, second or subsequent offense.