A Deferred Prosecutions Agreement (DPA) is a way to get your case dismissed without an adjudication of guilt. That means your are not found guilty. You don’t have to admit you are guilty. And you case can be dismissed. For some clients, that’s an appealing option.
In Virginia it’s called “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.” In Maryland, the “stet docket.” But the bottom line is that you don’t plead guilty – or say anything at all about what happened.
Other options for first time offenders such as Section 904 dispositions, or Probation Before Judgment in Maryland, do require a guilty plea, and that can be used against you in some circumstances. For example, in immigration cases, the INS doesn’t give a defendant any break for a Probation Before Judgment disposition. The INS treats it just like any other conviction.
But a DPA is not a conviction, because a client never admits guilty, and a judge never enters a guilty finding.
In DC, to be eligible for a DPA you need to test negative for drugs and complete 32 hours of community service. With the new “one-and-done” drug testing program, that can work for many clients.
Be aware that you may be drug tested at your first arraignment following a citation release. That could be your final drug test, if the results are negative.