Dane County District Attorney's Office

Deferred Prosecution Unit

Pat Hrubesky, Director
211 S. Carroll Street #212
Madison, WI 53703
Ph: (608) 284-6896
Fax: (608) 266-4687

The Deferred Prosecution Unit (DPU), sometimes referred to as the First Offenders Program, is run by the Dane County District Attorney's Office, and differs in its operation from the way some prosecution agencies use deferred prosecution agreements.

Eligible defendants can avoid adjudication (a criminal conviction) and sentencing by satisfying the requirements of a deferred prosecution agreement contract with the D.A.’s Office. The contract may require the defendant to participate in one or more of the following assessments or programs: alcohol and drug assessment and comply with any recommended treatment; abuser / generalized aggression treatment; attend issue specific, DPU, or parenting classes; pay restitution; complete community service work; and secure psychological / psychiatric, vocational and or any other counseling DPU deems necessary. Participants also agree to take other appropriate measures to assure they do not repeat criminal behavior. In domestic abuse and other cases involving threats or acts of violence, participants are not allowed to possess firearms or other weapons while in the program. All participants must comply with any existing bail conditions at all times throughout the duration of their contract without exception.

In return for successful completion of the deferred prosecution contract, the DA’s Office agrees to dismiss or amend the charges. If the defendant fails to meet the terms of the contract, the contract will be terminated and the case returned to court for the entry of adjudication and the imposition of sentence or prosecution if charges have not yet occurred. At this point there is no trial; the case goes straight to sentencing.

Contracts

The nature and seriousness of the offense, defendant risks and needs as well as availability of community resources, are all factors considered when determining the length of the contract. Terms of the contracts range from 9 to 36 months.

In determining specific contract terms with cooperative offenders, DPU staff aim to create achievable, realistic goals to improve public safety and allow offenders to make positive changes in their lives.

Eligibility

DPU has and will continue to accept persons with prior convictions. Here are the general parameters:

  1. Accepts meaningful responsibility for offense behavior to which guilty plea has been entered.
  2. Not on supervision or under deferred agreement elsewhere.
  3. No pending or open matters filed or under review.
  4. Voluntary participation.
  5. Have no prior convictions for less than 5 years prior to referring offense (except delinquency, adjudications, low level non-assaultive misdemeanors, or OWI 1 & 2).
  6. No prior probation, parole, extended supervision or DPU participation for less than 5 years prior to referring offense (except juvenile supervision & informal probation / conditional discharge out of state probation terms).
  7. No repeat domestic violence or family violence offenses.
  8. No similar conduct.
  9. No prior DPU clients who were returned to court for failure to comply
  10. Director reviews juvenile history to assess risk.
  11. Director maintains ability to make exceptions when compelling circumstances exist.

Cost

Program fees are $60 per month. The director has the ability to reduce or waive the fees and will consider doing so upon requests which are supported by proper documentation. Only money orders or cashier’s checks payable to the “Dane County DA’s Office” are accepted and must be mailed or delivered to the DPU office by the dates designated on the contract. Treatment, counseling, and educational program expenses are also the defendant’s responsibility. Some programs adjust rates to income levels and may accept payment in installments as long as the defendant has employment or other reliable income.

Termination

A deferred prosecution contract may be terminated if the defendant fails to comply with contract requirements, is terminated from treatment or other required programming before successful completion, is arrested or charged with new illegal behavior proven to a level of probability, or is otherwise determined to be no longer appropriate, such as providing false information or denying guilt for the original offense.

DPU vs. Probation

A defendant who is placed on probation has been found guilty by a court of law. Probation involves formal supervision by an agent of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections following a criminal conviction. Individuals on probation must have prior agent approval to move, travel out of state, own and operate a motor vehicle, borrow money or purchase on credit, change jobs, purchase or possess weapons and must report to the agent in person at specific interval. Monthly supervision fees, restitution and other court ordered financial obligations are required as is participation in court and agent ordered assessments and programs. Felons may not vote while on probation. Individuals on probation must also make themselves available for searches and tests, including breath, urine and DNA tests. Judges may order jail confinement as a condition of probation at the sentencing hearing or in response to later negative conduct. Non-compliance with probation rules and conditions may result in revocation of probation and imposition of a sentence to jail or prison.

A defendant in the deferred prosecution program is not sentenced, although a plea is routinely entered. A defendant enters the program voluntarily. A defendant may elect to continue to proceed through the court process rather than participate in deferred prosecution. Supervision of defendants is provided by DPU counselors who monitor defendants’ progress in meeting contract requirements during scheduled “check-ins.”

If the defendant successfully completes the DPU program, the case returns to court for dismissal. Record of the charge will remain in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access automated program (CCAP), but the dismissal will be noted and there will be no formal adjudication or conviction.

Benefits to Victims, Taxpayers, and Others

Victims who suffer personal property and monetary loss are compensated by the offender through restitution or community service, and both victims and the public have the benefit of the offender’s acknowledgment of guilt in a court of law.

Courts, attorneys, and police benefit from the reduction in resources and time spent in court for pretrial conferences, hearings, and trials.

Taxpayers and the public generally benefit by lessened stress upon law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, courts and correctional agencies. In addition, a successful outcome lessens the chance of repeat criminal conduct.

Defendants benefit from the opportunity to avoid acquiring a criminal conviction that may affect employment, housing, personal freedom, reputation / self-esteem, relationships, as well as the right to vote and future firearm privileges.

Where programs of this nature do not exist, defendants receive little or no supervision and they have less access to resources and services following arrest. National studies reveal the cost of handling cases through pretrial intervention programs is less than half the cost of handling similar cases in the traditional manner of prosecution.

Available Community Resources

View a list of available resources