Deferred Prosecution in Washington DUI Charges

deferred prosecution washington duiDeferred Prosecution can be a valuable option when facing certain DUI charges.  The benefits seem too good to be true.  But it’s not a magic option.  It is not well suited for every case and should be carefully considered.  Every year in Washington people unwisely choose this option without thinking it through.  Keep reading to find out why this option may make sense for your or maybe why you should steer clear.

The Good of Deferred Prosecution

Why consider a deferred prosecution?  First and foremost, it can get your DUI charge dismissed.  There are few options to outright dismiss a DUI charge in Washington and deferred prosecution is a guaranteed way to do so.  You can only do a deferred prosecution once in your lifetime.  So, if you’ve never done one before, you qualify.  You may be asking yourself, “What’s the downside?”

The Bad of Deferred Prosecution

The deferred prosecution program is not easy.  The program lasts for approximately 5 years before you can get your case dismissed.  Additionally, you will be required to complete 2 years of substantial substance abuse treatment.  Why is that?  Deferred prosecution is designed for people who admit they have a serious alcohol or drug problem.  You have to be willing to admit three things to yourself and the court:

  1. You have a serious drug or alcohol problem;
  2. If you don’t get the treatment you need, you are likely to re-offend; and
  3. You do not sincerely believe you are innocent of the crime.

If you meet this criteria, the court will let you enter the program.  So, in short, you will be required to do 2 years of treatment.  Then you have to wait an additional 3 years before the DUI is dismissed.  Additionally, if you do not successfully complete the program, your DUI will almost assuredly result in a conviction.

How a Deferred Prosecution Works

If you wish to enter a deferred prosecution, you must complete several steps.  Each of these steps must be completed to successfully navigate the program.

Step 1 – Get a Deferred Prosecution Evaluation

The first step to entering a deferred prosecution is to obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation that meets the requirements of the program.  This can typically be obtained at any Washington State approved treatment agency.  Do you have medical insurance?  Great!  Call your insurance company to see if treatment is covered.  It can greatly reduce the overall cost of the treatment.  Because the treatment lasts 2 years, it pays to have your insurance company pitching in.  At the evaluation, the treatment agency will craft a treatment plan specifically required by the deferred prosecution program.  You will need a copy of that treatment plan to enter the program.

Step 2 – Attend a Deferred Prosecution Orientation if Available

Typically the deferred prosecution program is supervised by the probation department of the county in which is filed.  As such, the probation department may offer an opportunity to come in and learn about what obligations are required.  It never hurts to meet with the probation department and learn, ask questions, and fully discuss the program.  Given that noncompliance can result in removal from

Step 3 – Consult with a DUI Lawyer

It is vital to fully understand what you are signing up for.  There is no better source of information than an experienced DUI defense lawyer.  He or she can answer all of your questions and give you valuable advise as to whether you are a good candidate for the program.  Additionally, the attorney can review the evidence against you to help determine whether you have any defenses in your case.

Step 4 – Petition for Deferred Prosecution

To enter the deferred prosecution program in Washington, you must file a petition with the court.  The court will require proof of your treatment plan and a case history or police report.  Once you’ve completed these requirements, the court will sign an order entering you into the program.  Now the real work begins.