Can’t get a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) because or a prior? You may be eligible for a Deferred Sentencing Agreement (DSA). The U.S. Attorney for DC has just published new eligibility requirements for DSA’s. But first, what’s the difference between a DPA and a DSA?
Although they sound alike, DPA’s and DSA’s are very different.
With a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the prosecution itself is deferred (stopped). The government never moves forward with the case. As soon as you agree to a DPA, your whole case stops, while you do your 32 hours of community service. If you are successful, the case is dismissed. Best part of a DSA: You never have to plead guilty or admit you did anything wrong.
If you don’t qualify for a DPA, another option is the Deferred Sentencing Agreement (DSA). But, with a DSA, the only thing deferred is the sentencing. With a DSA, you have to plead guilty, and tell the judge under oath you did whatever it is you are pleading guilty to. Instead of sentencing you right away, the judge continues your case for 180 days, while you perform 48 house of community service. If you successfully complete the DSA requirements, you are then allowed to withdraw your earlier plea of guilty.
Worst part of a DSA: If you mess up a DSA (by failing to complete the community service or getting a new arrest) you’ve already pled guilty. Your case is over, except for the sentencing. The judge can give you anything up to the maximum authorized by statute. In other words, don’t even think about a DSA unless you are going to do the 48 hours and stay out of trouble for 6 months.
Compare a DSA with a DPA. If you mess up a DPA, nothing happens. You are right back where you started from before you agreed to the DPA. You haven’t enter a guilty plea and you are not guilty under the law. The government still have to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
So why would anyone want a DSA? Because they don’t meet the strict eligibility rules for a DPA. With a DSA, you can have up to four (4) prior convictions within the past ten years. If you are charged with possession of marijuana, you can have an unlimited number of prior convictions and still qualify for a DSA. A defendant can also get a DSA for simple assault, threats, and assault on a police office, but only with the approval of a U.S. Attorney supervisor.
DSA’s are not ideal, and not right for everyone. To determine if a DSA or DPA is right for you, talk to your lawyer.
Categories: 1st time offender