A Benefit of Deferred Prosecution Agreement Means You’re Not Arrested
Video Transcribed: Deferred prosecution agreements are now much rarer. I’m a Lawyer in Tulsa, James Wirth, and we’re talking about DPAs, deferred prosecution agreements and how those work in the system, and what’s going on now. It was spurred by an article from the Tahlequah Daily Press, and it notes that it’s got some quotes from the district attorney down there, Jack Thorp, indicating that DPAs, deferred prosecution agreements, are much rarer now.
And then the article talks about how the district attorney Allan Grubb out Lincoln and Pottawatomie County’s some point recently was investigated for the use of deferred prosecution agreements. And it implies, it doesn’t say directly, that may be the reason why less is being used now.
What the article does say is that prior to 2011, it’s been used in 100 agreements per year, perhaps being entered. And this year so far in Cherokee County, only one has been entered, and that was related to the crime of a DUI. So what is a deferred prosecution agreement?
Well, essentially that is where you’ve got a crime alleged to have been committed. You’ve got a police report that goes to the district attorney. But rather than the district attorney filing charges, they enter an agreement with the defendant. Whereas if they jump through certain hoops, and remain in compliance, then they will not file the criminal charges. They’ll just handle that as this deal with the DA’s office.
And there is a law in Oklahoma. There’s a whole act regarding the use of these. So at some point, the legislature came together and thought that this was a good idea to have this as a possible alternative to criminal prosecution, to keep people out of the courts, out of the jails, but also an opportunity to perhaps rehabilitate or show that they can better themselves or do what they need to do to clear this up.
And generally, these records are not readily or publicly available. However, per statute, they are available by request under the Open Records Act. So why are they being used a lot less frequently now? That we don’t know exactly, however, it is up to the discretion of prosecutors.
So prosecutors may not like using them as much, or it may be that there’s been scrutiny based on this investigation of another prosecutor. But the benefit of the deferred prosecution agreement is that means you’re not necessarily arrested.
You don’t have that mugshot out there. You don’t have the court file that’s public record, and you get to work a deal outside of the courtroom so it doesn’t take the resources of the court system in order to get that worked out.
So they’re more common and lower-level offenses, particularly bogus checks or other misdemeanors, but we’re not seeing a lot of them lately. And they’ve always been somewhat of a rarity. You see a lot more deferred sentences than you do defer prosecution agreements.
And the difference between a deferred sentence and a deferred prosecution is that deferred prosecution means the charges are never actually filed. In a deferred sentence, the charges are filed, but it’s the sentencing that is deferred. So that case remains open in the court until you complete your probation.
With the deferred prosecution agreement, once you complete everything properly, nothing’s filed, and those records then become no longer available under Open Records Act request so they should be secret at that point.
But the story is as reported by the Tahlequah Daily Press, that much more of these deferred prosecution agreements are being done than they were before. According to I believe Jack Thorp, the DA down there is indicating before 2011, they’d see 100 or more a year, and now they’ve only had one this year.
So why did that one person get one? I don’t know. That’s a question up for debate. And why they’re not doing more, they didn’t talk about in the article. But it should be an option that someone is aware of. If you can get in front of an allegation of a criminal offense, get an attorney involved earlier. Then they can make contact with the DA’s office, perhaps before charges are filed, and see if it can be resolved in that such a way that keeps it out of the court system.
So if you’re dealing with the circumstances where you’re under investigation, it makes sense to get an attorney involved more quickly before charges are actually filed. Regardless, you definitely want to talk to an Oklahoma attorney if you’re under investigation, whether that’s with me at my office or somebody else. But if you do want to schedule an appointment with a Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney in my office, you can do so by going online to makelaweasy.com.