Is Deferred Prosecution for DUI A Good Option for You?
Washington laws can be very harsh on individuals convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), even first offenders. Perhaps, due to the harsh laws, the state recognizes that many of those charged with a DUI are simply unable to help themselves due to a dependence on alcohol or chemical substances.
Washington provides a way for persons such as these to avoid the consequences of a DUI charge and conviction. These individuals can avoid trial and keep the charge off their record by opting for a deferred prosecution for DUI.
They can choose instead to undergo a rehabilitation process and at the conclusion of the process, have the charges against them dismissed.
Although this may seem like getting off easy, there are several factors involved a deferred prosecution for DUI, that should be taken into consideration. Ideally, you should never make the decision to opt for deferred prosecution without consulting a lawyer.
A skilled Washington DUI lawyer can help you understand if a deferred prosecution is right for you and how you should proceed. Contact The Curtis Firm, LLC to speak with an experienced Tukwila DUI attorney about your charges and how you can move on with your life.
What does a Washington deferred prosecution for DUI entail?
Washington's deferred DUI law is provided for under Chapter 10.05 of the Revised Code of Washington. The law provides an alternative method for handling DUI cases through a compulsory treatment program, instead of the traditional fines and jail term.
Under the law, when a person has been arrested and charged with DUI, they can opt for a deferred prosecution, instead of going through the normal trial process.
The deferred prosecution operates almost like a contract between you and the prosecuting state or county. Essentially, the government agrees to dismiss the case against you if you agree to comply with all the requirements under the deferred prosecution statute.
It is important to state that the procedure is not really controlled by the court. All the requirements are statute based and, once you opt for the deferred prosecution process, cannot be changed by the court. The deferred prosecution process requires that individuals:
- Commit to go enter a treatment and evaluation program that will last at least 5 years
- Pay the expenses of the treatment program, which may cost between $2,000 and $5,000
- Agree to waive their right to trial and all attendant rights i.e. the right to call witnesses, make a defense etc.
- Agree to face the consequences of a DUI conviction if they fail to complete any part of the treatment program
A part from committing to fulfil all these requirements, individuals that opt for deferred prosecution must also be qualified under the law.
Who can qualify for a deferred DUI prosecution?
The deferred prosecution for DUI process is usually administered in part by the Washington Probation Department. To be considered for deferred prosecution, most jurisdictions require approval by the Probation Department before a judge will sign the order.
If they believe the applicant is not serious about addressing their specific problem or will be unable to stick with the program, they may withhold approval. In addition to this, individuals that wish to go through the process must:
- Have been charged with a DUI. The process does not apply to offenses other than a Washington DUI.
- Show that their offending is caused by some chemical dependence (drugs or alcohol) or mental condition.
- Show that the chemical dependence or mental condition, if left untreated, may lead to a recurrence of the offense.
- Never have been granted a deferred prosecution order before. It is strictly a once-in-a-lifetime process.
Individuals that qualify for deferred prosecution will be required to undergo a treatment program that will last for a minimum of 5 years.
The deferred prosecution treatment program
The treatment program is usually administered by state-licensed centers which will all provide the exact same program. So, it will be impossible to find a less stringent or expensive program.
The program will be geared towards treating the underlying problem behind the offending. The licensed centers will do this through a combination of in-patient and out-patient treatment, as well as discussion and support groups.
The treatment program is meant to be comprehensive and will form a huge part of your life while it is ongoing. The whole program will take place over three phases as follows:
- Intensive phase: This phase will last for weeks or even months. It will include almost daily contact with medical professionals in in-patient or out-patient settings. You will also work with counselors and educators who will help you with lifestyle changes and in support groups.
- Follow-up phase: This phase, which can last up to 2 years, will consist of a few alcoholic or drug dependency support meetings a week. Random testing of urine and breath samples will be required.
- Monitoring phase: This final phase will only kick off after the other two phases and will last about 3 years. This means that if you do not complete the other two phases within 2 years, the process may take longer than 5 years for you. During the phase, the court will determine what other requirements you must meet before the successful conclusion of your deferred prosecution. There may also be random tests and counseling during this phase.
Will deferred prosecution for DUI make sense for you?
As mentioned earlier, the court will not grant an order of deferred prosecution for DUI if it does not believe you can meet the requirements of the treatment program. You must decide early, with your lawyer and family, if this option is right for you. Some of the pros and cons you should keep in mind include:
- You can get your charges dismissed within 5 years
- Avoid jail, fines, loss of license
- Avoid the extra-legal consequences of a conviction which may be even harsher than the legal consequences.
- The treatment program required for deferred prosecution is not easy. You must be prepared for absolute abstinence while it is ongoing.
- It requires you to give up your right to trial. Failure to complete the program successfully will result in summary conviction.
- The program may also be expensive.
- It will count as a prior conviction if you are convicted for DUI within 7 years after you successfully completed the program.
- In alcohol related deferred DUI cases, you may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device.
The Curtis Firm, LLC can help you
Clearly, deferred prosecution for DUI has great advantages for you. However, it also comes with a lot of conditions and consequences. A single misstep may be more disadvantageous to you than an outright trial.
It is important for you to seek an experienced DUI lawyer to help you determine if the process will make sense for you. Attorney James Curtis of The Curtis Firm, LLC can guide you properly.
To speak with a Washington DUI attorney about your DUI arrest, contact The Curtis Firm, LLC at 253-327-1063 to set up a free consultation.