Written by Stryder Wegener
If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in King County, you naturally want to know about your options for fighting this charge and avoiding a conviction. One option is to defend yourself at trial. Another may be deferred prosecution. Keep in mind; there are many ways a DUI lawyer can advance your interests and help you avoid a conviction. To learn about your eligibility for preferred prosecution in King County after a DUI, and the pros and cons of this option, contact a Seattle DUI lawyer at Emerald City Law Group.
What Is Deferred Prosecution?
Deferred prosecution is a court program that diverts your case away from a trial. Instead of going through a trial and possibly being convicted, you admit to a mental health or drug or alcohol dependency issue and go through a program, intended to be both punitive and rehabilitative. While you have to admit to having a substance problem and committing the DUI, if you complete the program, you will be not convicted.
In King County, deferred prosecution is a significant time commitment. You must complete an extensive two-year treatment program for a mental health condition or alcohol/drug dependency. This is not a program to take lightly. You will have many daily and weekly requirements to complete for two years. Then, you must complete three years of additional probation after the completion of the program. Only after a total of five years will your DUI charge be dismissed.
Are You Eligible for Deferred Prosecution for a DUI?
You can only go through DUI deferred prosecution once in your life. If you have used deferred prosecution for a DUI-related offense in the past, you are not eligible.
You cannot simply claim to have a mental health disorder, alcohol dependency, or drug addiction. You have to be diagnosed. If you are interested in deferred prosecution, you will go through an evaluation with a state-approved treatment agency.
You also must stipulate to the facts of your case in writing. You are required to admit to the evidence provided by the prosecution, such as the police report, chemical test results, and other evidence of intoxication and the DUI. These stipulations will then be used to convict you if you violate the terms of the deferred prosecution program.
Possible Benefits & Detriments to Deferred Prosecution
There are advantages and disadvantages to deferred prosecution for a DUI. It may be an option for you, but it is not always the right option.
Possible benefits of deferred prosecution include avoiding a conviction on your record. You avoid serving jail time or paying fines. If you submitted to chemical tests at the time of your arrest, you might not lose your driver’s license.
However, there is always another side to the coin. You will not be convicted of a DUI if you complete deferred prosecution. Yet, if you are arrested and charged with another DUI, your deferred prosecution is considered a prior offense. You will likely face a second DUI charge, which can result in harsher consequences.
Deferred prosecution is also not inexpensive. The court does not pay for the treatment program. You must go through the two-year treatment requirement at your own cost.
While you won’t lose your license, your privilege to drive is conditional. You must use an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate for a certain period. You will also have to pay for the installation, maintenance, and removal of the IID.
Also, if you violate the deferred prosecution program in any way, you must return to court. The judge will decide whether to remove you from the program or not. If you are removed, you will be convicted of the DUI without a trial. By agreeing to deferred prosecution, you waive your right to a trial.
Deferred Prosecution Is One of Many Options
When you face a DUI charge in King County, Emerald City Law Group is here to fight for you. Typically, there are several possible defenses to a DUI. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the evidence against you to determine the strongest defense strategy and will discuss with you the likelihood of avoiding a conviction.
Additionally, your DUI attorney will discuss the possible penalties upon conviction versus the consequences of deferred prosecution. If you are facing a first-time DUI, the penalties can look difficult. However, with a lawyer fighting to mitigate the consequences, you may be better off facing penalties upon a possible conviction than agreeing to deferred prosecution.
Before you seek out deferred prosecution for a DUI, talk with an experienced DUI lawyer like those of Emerald City Law Group . There may be a better option for you.