In recent years the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has implemented several programs primarily designed to help non-violent offenders dependent on drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental health issues, avoid a criminal conviction. The goal is primarily twofold: 1) help the person suffering from drug or alcohol dependence or mental health issues get treatment, and 2) reduce costs associated with prosecution and incarceration.
The two most common programs utilized in Milwaukee County are Diversions and Deferred Prosecution Agreements or DPAs. There are significant differences between the two.
A Diversion allows someone arrested and referred to the District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal charges to avoid a criminal charge altogether. This means that a person participating in a Diversion program will not have to go to court, and will avoid having the case appear on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access database or “CCAP.”
A person in a Diversion program will be monitored by an outside agency for a period of usually six months, during which time the person must comply with a list of conditions, such as random urine screens for drugs or alcohol, maintaining therapy and cooperating with treatment, paying restitution or completing community service.
If the person successfully completes the terms of the Diversion agreement, the person will typically avoid a criminal charge. The Diversion program is usually reserved for individuals with no prior record.
A Deferred Prosecution Agreement or DPA can also be an extremely beneficial option for someone arrested for a non-violent offense. The main difference between a Diversion and a DPA is that a DPA involves the person being charged with a crime at the beginning of the process. This means that the criminal matter can be viewed by the public on CCAP.
Additionally, a person entering into a DPA will have to appear in court and must plead guilty to the charged offense. The judge will then find the person guilty; however, under a DPA the judge will withhold entry of the conviction and instead will approve the DPA.
As is the case with a Diversion agreement, a person who has entered into a DPA will be monitored by an agency for a period of usually six months, during which time the person must comply with a list of conditions such as random urine tests for drugs or alcohol, maintaining therapy and cooperating with treatment, paying restitution and completing community service.
If the person successfully completes the DPA, the original charge is often reduced to a much less serious offense, or in some cases the criminal charge may be dismissed altogether. Sometimes, even a person arrested and charged with a serious felony can be eligible for a DPA.
Further, although Diversions and DPAs are primarily targeted at non-violent offenders, certain offenses such as battery can sometimes be resolved through one of these agreements. If you or someone you know has been arrested contact Attorney Jacob Manian right away to discuss whether a Diversion or Deferred Prosecution Agreement might be an option. It could make all the difference for your future.