The United States Attorney’s Office has two programs for first time offenders, Deferred Prosecutions and Deferred Sentencing. The names sound the same, but the programs are very different.
Deferred Prosecution means that the entire prosecution is deferred – which means the charges are put on hold until later. With Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA’s), the client doesn’t have to plead guilty or admit that anything illegal was done. In fact, the client says nothing. The lawyer takes care of the whole matter.
With Deferred Sentencing Agreements (DSA’s) the prosecution is not put on hold. Instead it goes forward. The only thing “deferred” or put off is the sentencing. So what’s the difference?
In a Deferred Sentencing Agreement, the client must plead guilty, and must admit to committing the crime. With a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, there is no admission of guilt.
Moreover, in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, is the client fails to complete community service or violates the terms of the DPA, the case simply starts over from the point it was “deferred.” Because the client has not pled guilty, or admitting anything, no harm has been done.
But with a Deferred Sentencing Agreement, everything is over but the sentencing. The client has already pled guilty and already admitted under oath that he did it. If the Agreement is not completed, the judge can sentence the defendant to anything within the statutory maximum.