You have options: just got charged with a crime in Wisconsin.
Deferred Prosecution Agreement
If you end up facing criminal charges, you may wonder what the possible outcomes in the case are. Most people are aware that in criminal cases you have the right to a jury trial and you also have the right to admit guilt and be sentenced by the Judge. Sometimes there is also a third option, a deferred prosecution agreement.
Deferred agreements include a guilty plea to the charge you are facing, except instead of the Judge entering a conviction and sentencing you on the case, the case is held open for a period of time. These agreements allow you to demonstrate to the court that you are willing to stay on the straight and narrow. If you are successful, it can pay off in a very big way.
What is a deferred agreement?
A deferred prosecution agreement is an agreement between you and the District Attorney facilitated by your lawyer. It ensures a lesser penalty at the completion of the agreement by requiring specific terms to be met. Those terms are unique to each and every case; sometimes they include treatment deemed necessary based on the particular events alleged (ie. alcohol treatment, parenting classes, anger management). Other times, the agreement may require restitution and/or community service.
One thing in common to all deferred agreements is that if you are charged with a new criminal offense, the agreement will be revoked. The agreement often includes a clause that, if revoked, you will be prosecuted under the original charge you pled guilty to. Every county has different requirements, eligibility, and formats for their deferred agreements, and some counties have decided against offering deferred agreements as a matter of practice.
Is a deferred agreement always an option?
If your county has a policy that allows for deferred agreements, there are still some hurdles that have to be cleared in order for a deferred agreement to be a possibility. Typically, the charge has to be your first criminal offense, although there are some exceptions to this hurdle. If it is not your first criminal offense, you are facing an uphill battle in trying to secure a deferred agreement. The type of charge is also another major hurdle. If your case is a high level felony, or if it alleges violence, then District Attorneys tend to be less receptive to negotiating a deferred agreement.
What is the outcome after the agreement is fulfilled?
If you are able to successfully complete your deferred agreement, one of two outcomes is achieved. Either the case is dismissed outright or you are convicted of a lesser charge. The terms of what will happen, upon successful completion of your agreement, are specified in the agreement itself. If your case is dismissed, you will have avoided a criminal conviction on your record. If, instead, the agreement includes a conviction at the completion of the agreement, it may be a situation where your case goes from a felony to a misdemeanor, or to a municipal violation (a ticket).