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What Is a Disposition Date on a Court Record?

By Claire Gillespie - Updated January 07, 2019
Gavel sitting on law book

Generally, the disposition date on a court record is the date the court makes a final ruling in the case, which brings it to its conclusion. Some cases have more than one relevant disposition date, such as the date of a court ruling on a pretrial motion as well as the date of a final ruling in a criminal case. The actual disposition of a case, i.e., the final order itself, varies depending on the type of case, for example, for criminal, civil litigation and bankruptcy cases.

Disposition Date on Criminal Record

The disposition date on a criminal record is the date on which the defendant was found guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, he is sentenced on a date after the disposition date. Generally, the disposition date is used for record-keeping purposes, and sentencing is not included as a disposition.

In criminal law, the disposition itself is the final outcome of the case. For example, a "convicted" disposition means the defendant has plead or been found guilty by the court. An "acquitted" disposition means the defendant has been found not guilty by the court. A "dismissed" disposition means the criminal charge has been dropped, and the case has been terminated. A "suspended sentence" disposition means the court has delayed sentencing pending a period of probation, which may include completion of a treatment program.

If you want to get a copy of a criminal disposition, you can contact the court that dealt with the case and request a Certificate of the Record, which certifies conviction and sentencing disposition. You may need to provide the case number and pay a fee, which varies by court.

Disposition Date in Juvenile Proceedings

In juvenile proceedings, the disposition date is the date on which the court holds a disposition hearing, at the end of which a final order is made. This is similar to the sentencing part of a criminal trial for an adult offender. The disposition sets out a plan to meet the juvenile's needs, based on written reports and other evidence, and specifies the most suitable form of treatment, rehabilitation, training or custody for the juvenile offender.

Juvenile proceedings are different than criminal proceedings for adult offenders in that they focus on rehabilitation, not punishment, which is reflected in the disposition hearing.

Disposition Date in Litigation

In civil litigation proceedings, the disposition date on a court document is typically the date on which the defendant was found liable or not liable, but it may also refer to when a judgment was entered.

If the defendant was found liable and the other party has been awarded monetary damages, the other party will want to enforce the judgment. However, he has to wait for a specified period of time to let the defendant appeal the decision or seek another type of relief, such as a petition for a stay of enforcement of the judgment. The disposition date is important because the deadline to file an appeal or seek relief starts to run on this date.

Disposition Date in Bankruptcy

In a bankruptcy case, the disposition is the outcome of the case, and the disposition date is the date on which that outcome is decided by the court. Some common dispositions in bankruptcy proceedings include "confirmed" (the court confirmed a plan of reorganization), "converted" (the case was converted to a case under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code) and "dismissed" (the case was dismissed and closed).

This should not be mistaken for the disposition of assets in bankruptcy, which refers to the sale of assets in order to pay creditors.

About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

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