Commonwealth v. Duquette

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SYLLABUS: A criminal defendant who, on appeal to the jury session of a District Court, admitted to sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilty of wanton injury to property, whereupon his case was continued without a finding, on condition that he make restitution before the end of the continuance period, and who thereafter was brought before a different judge after failing to adhere to the conditions of the continuance, was entitled to have his case restored to the jury docket for trial, in view of that judge’s finding that he had never waived [***2] his right to trial by jury, and it was error for the judge to find him guilty and impose sentence on the basis of the previous admission to sufficient facts. [838-842]

Failure of a defendant to ensure the preservation of a tape recording of a District Court hearing did not shift the Commonwealth’s constitutional burden of showing that the defendant’s admissions to sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilty, which, the Commonwealth contended, amounted to a plea of guilty, were voluntarily and intelligently made. [842-843]

Discussion of the utility of “admission to sufficient facts” and “continuance without a finding” as pretrial diversion procedures, and guidelines for employing these procedural devices in future criminal cases in the District Courts. [843-847]

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