What is a deferred prosecution of a DUI? Should I consider “going deferred”?
Governed by RCW 10.05 (see: http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=10.05), a deferred prosecution is a once-per-lifetime opportunity to make a burdensome deal with a court to do 2 years of intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol, drugs mental health or some combination of those issues and behave yourself, having the DUI (or other non-felony) criminal charge dismissed at the end of the 5-year deferral period. You should ideally come in and discuss this with me in person as it’s rather complicated. But if you have an alcohol, drug or mental problem, or some combination of those, and are willing to do a 2-year outpatient treatment program and from 2 to 5 years of twice-a-week AA or NA meetings, and if you complete all of that successfully and get no new similar offense, the DUI charge (and any additional charges from the same arrest date or that occurred within one week of that date) is/are then dismissed. So, it avoids conviction. However, the deferred prosecution for a DUI et al is not the world’s best ever deal or option. It has its drawbacks. It still stays on your record after dismissal (expungement is almost nonexistent in Washington state but certain crimes can be vacated and the guilty plea or finding withdrawn after so many years under certain circumstances – but not so for DUI’s or Deferred Prosecutions. They cannot, like a DUI, ever be vacated, expunged, or otherwise removed from your criminal record. It stays there for 99 years with the DOL, just like a DUI conviction, and for the duration of your natural lifetime with the courts. Also, deferred prosecution in Washington State is a tough program not to screw up for so long as it carries 5 years of open jurisdiction before dismissal. It also counts as a prior conviction of DUI equivalent if you should happen to get a subsequent DUI within 7 years of your deferred prosecution DUI arrest date. Additionally, pursuant to immigration law, though no longer a CIMT (crime involving moral turpitude) that would trigger deportation, as it formerly did, at least for a first-time non-felony DUI, you can forget about travel to Canada for any reason with a DUI conviction or a deferred prosecution. (It is very difficult to enter Canada with a DUI conviction, but not impossible). Another of my FAQ’s here deals more thoroughly with DUI travel to Canada. In my DUI defense practice, a deferred prosecution is generally a ‘fallback’ defense approach to be turned to only if all else done for your defense fails as it’s an arduous, difficult and lengthy program and frankly, not that many people complete it successfully. If someone wants it to totally avoid conviction for certain due to their job situation or they really want that much treatment from the time they first meet me because they have a serious issue with drugs or alcohol, etc., and they want to arrest the disease process or have gotten an ‘ultimatum’ from their family or their employer – that’s different and in such cases we go directly to seeking a deferred prosecution for those clients. It is not a great deal for most, though, in truth.