Individuals who have been arrested on drug-related offenses in Wisconsin may avail themselves to a “Diversion” or a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement” commonly known as a “DPA.” These agreements are ways that non-violent offenders can be funneled into substance abuse treatment and avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office states the goals of their Diversion and DPA policies in their official charging protocol. Foremost of these goals is to “help offenders overcome obstacles that may lead them to the criminal justice system and assist them in becoming productive members of our community.”
The charging protocol recognizes the difference between drug traffickers and those who suffer from substance addiction and dependence. Those with substance abuse issues should first be treated to encourage rehabilitation and a return to a productive lifestyle.
There are key differences between Diversion and a DPA in Milwaukee and much of Wisconsin. Diversion is a “pre-charge” and “non-court approved” agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and a defendant. In other words, attorneys for the State and an arrested individual come together and negotiate a resolution for a case, which may involve the individual’s agreement to seek and complete substance abuse treatment, before a charge is issued. This is the best situation for an accused person – avoiding a criminal charge is a very positive outcome for someone who’s been arrested on a drug offense. After the terms of a Diversion agreement are completed, the case is closed before it ever gets issued.
A DPA, on the other hand, does involve a case which has been charged and is moving through the courts. A DPA is a court-approved agreement wherein a defendant is asked to perform certain actions, again most often substance abuse treatment. In turn for complying with the agreement, after a set period of time and after milestones have been met, the charge can be reduced or dismissed outright.
Where the State’s case is strong and a conviction is likely, a Diversion or DPA should be the first outcome sought by a competent defense attorney in Wisconsin. Attorney Adams is experienced representing individuals accused of drug-offenses and is able to counsel an accused individual through the Diversion and DPA process in Wisconsin.