How does deferred prosecution work?

For some who are accused of crimes, deferred prosecution may be an effective solution. This agreement allows a charge to be dropped under certain terms.

For those accused of crimes in Michigan and elsewhere, the legal process may be frightening and uncertain. It may be reassuring to have as many options as possible to either lessen or avoid prosecution. Some may not have heard about a legal route called deferred prosecution. This option may give those facing criminal charges a second chance and hope for the future.

Understanding this type of plea agreement

Deferred prosecution is a type of plea bargain. This, in turn, is an agreement made between the judge, attorneys and defendant that may mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction, by allowing the defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. For example, someone accused of wrongdoing might agree to a plea bargain instead of going to trial, which might give him or her a lesser fine or jail sentence. Going to trial could carry the risk of a lengthy sentence, not to mention the time and embarrassment of a public trial. Many people consider a plea agreement to be much more preferable than the alternative.

With deferred prosecution, the defendant agrees to live by a certain set of rules or terms during a time period that the judge specifies. If the person fulfills these requirements without incident, the case is dismissed.

Deferred prosecution may be especially beneficial for younger defendants. For example, an underage minor who was arrested for drunk driving might agree to the following terms:

· Losing his driver's license until age 18

· Taking an alcohol education class

· Doing community service

· Refraining from drinking, parties, bars and other drinking-related activities until age 21

If the person fulfilled each of these responsibilities, then his case would be tossed out and he could continue his life with a clean record. If, however, he was caught a couple months after his arrest drinking with friends, then the deferred prosecution plea would be invalidated and he could find himself facing the full consequences of his original arrest, in addition to any further penalties for being caught again.

Benefits and limitations of deferred prosecution

The New York Times cites deferred prosecution as an effective tool to reeducate and reform those who are willing to appreciate the second chance they are being given. Often, deferred prosecution involves counseling and educational opportunities, as well as a chance to make a positive change in the community by doing services or public speaking. These activities may be enough to inspire some to make ongoing changes in their lives. Some, however, say that deferred prosecution helps people avoid the consequences of wrongdoing and does not provide justice to the victims of a crime.

When used wisely, deferred prosecution may allow a defendant to learn from his or her mistakes and avoid making poor choices in the future. An experienced Michigan defense attorney should be able to advise clients of this option.