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A person in Wisconsin facing criminal allegations may not necessarily have to go to prison, even if the allegations may be true.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council explains that Wisconsin law allows some people facing criminal charges to receive a Deferred Prosecution Agreement.


The alleged offender must face charges in one of the counties that offers this type of program. Usually, eligibility requirements include the following:

  • The defendant has a limited criminal record or no criminal record
  • The defendant accepts responsibility for committing the offense
  • The defendant participates willingly in the agreement


Participation typically involves completing certain conditions within a specified time frame. These conditions are unique to the situation, and the District Attorney’s office sets them and agrees to reduce or dismiss charges when the participant completes the agreement.

When people with alcohol or drug problem face charges, completing a treatment program is often a condition of the DPA. They may also have to find and keep a job, perform community service work and take regular or random drug tests throughout the program.

The goal of DPAs is often to ensure that the illegal activity does not occur again, so conditions may involve informing the public of the violation, paying restitution to victims, and paying fines.


According to the ABA Journal, DPA programs allow people to avoid the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, such as trouble finding housing or missing out on jobs or scholarship opportunities. These programs benefit society, as well, as studies show that people who complete a DPA are typically less likely to re-offend than those who enter the criminal justice system.

Across the country, 55% of all counties have set up these types of programs, although eligibility and other factors may vary widely from one county to the next.