A brief guide to what can be expected under a Deferred Prosecution.
What is a Deferred Prosecution Under RCW 10.05?
Under RCW 10.05, a person may enter into a special program called a deferred prosecution. This is a separate thing from a deferred sentence, which will not be discussed in this post. The RCW 10.05 deferred prosecution is essentially an opportunity to do drug, alcohol, or mental health treatment in lieu of being convicted for the offense.
While an RCW 10.05 deferred prosecution is not limited to DUIs, this is the setting in which it is most often used. This is usually due to the mandatory minimums for second and third DUI offenses and their close relation to one of the requisites for entering the deferred (alcohol addiction).
Requirements and Getting Started
The language of RCW 10.05 states that a person may petition the court of limited jurisdiction for a deferred prosecution for any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. However for any violations of RCW 46 (relating to traffic offenses like DUI), a person can only do this deferred prosecution once in a lifetime.
The process starts off with the filing of a petition which states certain things. The main thing is that the crime was a result of, or caused by, a substance abuse issue or mental health issue and that if the issue is not dealt with, there is a probability that future violations may occur.
The filing of the petition will stop the speedy trial clock that would normally be running to explore the deferred prosecution option.
Treatment and Cost
The first step is to locate a treatment agency and to obtain an assessment. The agency will talk with you, review your criminal history, review your driving history, probably take a sample to determine if you are still using or recently stopped using, and to otherwise determine whether the deferred prosecution program is the right fit for you. This is an important step because the agency must determine that you do have an alcohol, drug, or mental health issue that is amenable to treatment.
The treatment agency will then develop a two year long treatment plan. You must be able to pay for this treatment, either on your own or through insurance. It can be expensive. Depending on the treatment and the agency, the price can be anywhere from $4,000 through $10,000+. These are only the costs of treatment, the Court and probation department will likely have additional fees.
After the two year treatment, there is three additional years of court supervision/probation. You must maintain abstinence and law abiding behavior during that time period. If you fail to comply, you run the risk of having your deferred revoked (which means possibly being convicted of the crime and sentenced!). However, if you successfully complete the deferred prosecution, the case will be dismissed (but will still count as a prior DUI if you receive a subsequent DUI within 7 years).
If a deferred prosecution sounds right for you, be sure to explore the option with your attorney!
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