Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County District Attorney

Deferred Prosecution Program

Melvin S. Juette, Director
211 S. Carroll Street #212
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 284-6896
Fax: (608) 266-4687

The Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP), sometimes referred to as the First Offenders Program, is run by the Dane County District Attorney's Office, and differs in its operation from the way some prosecution agencies use deferred prosecution agreements.

Eligible defendants can avoid adjudication (a criminal conviction) and sentencing by satisfying the requirements of a deferred prosecution agreement contract with the D.A.’s Office. The contract may require the defendant to participate in one or more of the following assessments or programs: alcohol and drug assessment and comply with any recommended treatment; abuser / generalized aggression treatment; attend issue-specific, DPP, or parenting classes; pay restitution; complete community service work; and secure psychological/psychiatric, vocational and/or any other counseling DPP deems necessary. Participants also agree to take other appropriate measures to assure they do not repeat criminal behavior. In domestic abuse and other cases involving threats or acts of violence, participants are not allowed to possess firearms or other weapons while in the program. All participants must comply with any existing bail conditions at all times throughout the duration of their contract without exception.

In return for successful completion of the deferred prosecution contract, the DA’s Office agrees to dismiss or amend the charges. If the defendant fails to meet the terms of the contract, the contract will be terminated and the case returned to court for the entry of adjudication and the imposition of sentence or prosecution if charges have not yet occurred. At this point there is no trial; the case goes straight to sentencing.


The nature and seriousness of the offense, defendant risks, and needs as well as availability of community resources, are all factors considered when determining the length of the contract. Terms of the contracts range from 9 to 36 months.

In determining specific contract terms with cooperative offenders, DPP staff aim to create achievable, realistic goals to improve public safety and allow offenders to make positive changes in their lives.


DPP has and will continue to accept persons with prior convictions. Here are the general parameters:

  1. Accepts meaningful responsibility for offense behavior to which guilty plea has been entered.
  2. Not on supervision or under deferred agreement elsewhere.
  3. No pending or open matters filed or under review.
  4. Voluntary participation.
  5. Have no prior convictions for less than 5 years prior to referring offense (except delinquency, adjudications, low-level non-assaultive misdemeanors, or OWI 1 & 2).
  6. No prior probation, parole, extended supervision or DPP participation for less than 5 years prior to referring offense (except juvenile supervision & informal probation / conditional discharge out of state probation terms).
  7. No repeat domestic violence or family violence offenses.
  8. No similar conduct.
  9. No prior DPP clients who were returned to court for failure to comply
  10. Director reviews juvenile history to assess risk.
  11. Director maintains ability to make exceptions when compelling circumstances exist.


The program fee for DPP is $10 per participant. The director has the ability to reduce or waive the fee and will consider doing so upon requests which are supported by proper documentation. Only money orders or cashier’s checks payable to the “Dane County DA’s Office” are accepted and must be mailed or delivered to the DPP office by the dates designated on the contract. Treatment, counseling, and educational program expenses are also the defendant’s responsibility. Some programs adjust rates to income levels and may accept payment in installments as long as the defendant has employment or other reliable income.


A deferred prosecution contract may be terminated if the defendant fails to comply with contract requirements, is terminated from treatment or other required programming before successful completion, is arrested or charged with new illegal behavior proven to a level of probability, or is otherwise determined to be no longer appropriate, such as providing false information or denying guilt for the original offense.

DPP vs. Probation

A defendant who is placed on probation has been found guilty by a court of law. Probation involves formal supervision by an agent of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections following a criminal conviction. Individuals on probation must have prior agent approval to move, travel out of state, own and operate a motor vehicle, borrow money or purchase on credit, change jobs, purchase or possess weapons and must report to the agent in person at specific intervals. Monthly supervision fees, restitution and other court-ordered financial obligations are required as is participation in court and agent ordered assessments and programs. Felons may not vote while on probation. Individuals on probation must also make themselves available for searches and tests, including breath, urine, and DNA tests. Judges may order jail confinement as a condition of probation at the sentencing hearing or in response to later negative conduct. Non-compliance with probation rules and conditions may result in revocation of probation and imposition of a sentence to jail or prison.

A defendant in the deferred prosecution program is not sentenced, although a plea is routinely entered. A defendant enters the program voluntarily. A defendant may elect to continue to proceed through the court process rather than participate in deferred prosecution. Supervision of defendants is provided by DPP counselors who monitor defendants’ progress in meeting contract requirements during scheduled “check-ins.”

If the defendant successfully completes the DPP program, the case returns to court for dismissal. Record of the charge will remain in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access automated program (CCAP), but the dismissal will be noted and there will be no formal adjudication or conviction.

Benefits to Victims, Taxpayers, and Others

Victims who suffer personal property and monetary loss are compensated by the offender through restitution or community service, and both victims and the public have the benefit of the offender’s acknowledgment of guilt in a court of law.

Courts, attorneys, and police benefit from the reduction in resources and time spent in court for pretrial conferences, hearings, and trials.

Taxpayers and the public generally benefit by lessened stress upon law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, courts, and correctional agencies. In addition, a successful outcome lessens the chance of repeat criminal conduct.

Defendants benefit from the opportunity to avoid acquiring a criminal conviction that may affect employment, housing, personal freedom, reputation/self-esteem, relationships, as well as the right to vote and future firearm privileges.

Where programs of this nature do not exist, defendants receive little or no supervision and they have less access to resources and services the following arrest. National studies reveal the cost of handling cases through pretrial intervention programs is less than half the cost of handling similar cases in the traditional manner of prosecution.

Deferred Prosecution Child Abuse Initiative

The Dane County DA’s Office continues to respect all individual’s rights to participate in diversion programming regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and age. As the larger community explores non-violent parenting initiatives and the cultural context of corporal punishment, the Dane County DA’s Office will launch a new diversion program designed to protect all children and strengthen families. Because a disproportionate number of minorities are referred to the DA’s Office, it is expected that this initiative will impact short-term and long-term racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This initiative will provide timely and culturally responsive programming to all eligible defendants filling a current service gap. Additionally, the DA’s Office will support professional education opportunities for staff that teach culturally responsive service delivery.

Goals of the Project:

  • Provide an opportunity for eligible caregivers to participate in an alternative to the formal criminal justice response following an incident of physical abuse of a child as the result of excessive corporal punishment.
  • Integrate parenting programs that strive to reduce the number of children who are abused by the excessive use of corporal punishment by replacing current discipline practices with positive parenting methods.
  • Strive to provide services to all child victims that promote healing.
  • Offer parents/defendants and children services in a timely, culturally responsive, and systems coordinated manner.
  • Strive to offer all participants services that will promote positive change and are appropriate to their needs, abilities, goals, history, and offense.
  • Eliminate the use of corporal punishment/physical discipline by all participants.
  • Provide professional training opportunities regarding strategies to end violent parenting and efforts to improve cultural competency.
  • Engage the community in a discussion that explores non-violent parenting practices.

Appropriate Candidates for Deferred Prosecution Child Abuse Initiative:

  • Any caregiver who has committed an act of intentional physical abuse to a child within the context of excessive physical punishment including caregivers who perceive corporal punishment as an acceptable form of discipline within their culture.
  • Any caregiver who demonstrates willingness to participate in recommended services – which may include parenting, mental health treatment, and/or AODA treatment if there is a history of substance abuse issues.
  • Any caregiver who verbalizes recognition/admission that they utilized corporal punishment which resulted in physical abuse and verbalizes willingness to address the contributing factors and the effects of their actions.
  • Any caregiver who is working cooperatively with law enforcement and the Department of Human Services.
  • Any caregiver who lacks recent criminal behavior (within 1-5 years).
  • Any caregiver who is not under jurisdiction with another agency.

To read more about this initiative please click here.

Deferred Prosecution Opiate Initiative

DPU Opiate Defender Mission Statement:

It is the goal of Deferred Prosecution for the Opiate Offender of the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, to provide the best wrap-around services as can be offered toward the recovery of each participant. The Deferred Prosecution Unit (DPU) Opiate Diversion Program, as all of DPU, is committed to the protection and safety of the public. DPU fully utilizes a wide spectrum of community resources to facilitate the completion of participant contracts. The program remains in accordance with all statutes and codes to ensure due process for all parties.

To this end, the mission incorporates these values:

  • Each participant will be treated with respect.
  • Services provided are ethical, efficient, and culturally sensitive.
  • Each participant is viewed as having innate worth, value, and potential.
  • Each person’s recovery is of the highest priority.
  • The DPU Department promotes an environment of productivity and teamwork.
  • DPU places emphasis on participant responsibility and accountability.

Potential participants must meet DPU eligibility requirements, as noted above, and unlike other DPU referrals, they must be Dane County residents. Please review the set of expectations below which help explain the intense nature of this program:

  • Compliance with a rigorous drug testing program that in many cases requires them to call daily to see if their color is drawn, then report by 9 am if it is.
  • Meet with the DPU counselor face to face weekly until advancing in the program phase system
  • Submit a number of written assignments
  • Fully comply with AODA treatment
  • Comply with other programming as identified as needed (employment, mental health, abuser and aggression, etc)
  • Community service
  • Restitution if claimed
  • Program fee of $60/mo unless a reduction is approved based on US Poverty Guidelines (and commonly is reduced when participants are facing high treatment expenses)

Appropriate candidates for Deferred Prosecution Opiate Initiative as of this time:

  • Participants must either be a Dane County Resident or if from outside Dane County, must have valid DL and a working vehicle to get here a minimum of twice per week.
  • Participant has an opiate/opioid abuse issue.
  • Individuals with Pre-charge referrals to the DA’s office as a result of an arrest for Possession of Narcotic Drug (Opiate/Opioid only) and/or Possession of Opiate/Opioid Drug Paraphernalia, or,
  • Individuals with Post-charge referrals to the DA’s Office as a result of Opiate/Opioid-related crimes.
  • Participant may not have any other open/pending matters filed or under review.
  • There may not be any violence or use of force associated with offense behavior.
  • Not on supervision or under a deferred agreement elsewhere.
  • Other criteria as shown above under Eligibility.