Deferred Prosecution for Mental Health Issues

Deferred Prosecution is a program available to those charged with misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor crimes in Washington. RCW Chapter 10.05 lays out the framework for the program.  The program allows a defendant to avoid a conviction and its penalties by entering into and successfully completing the program.  The defendant has to state under oath that the crime charged was a result of alcohol or substance use or mental health issues Deferred Prosecution may only be used once by a defendant.

When a defendant enters Deferred Prosecution for mental health reasons, the law does not have strict guidelines for treatment.  This allows the defendant and their treatment provider to create a plan that is specific to the individual situation and is sometime less rigorous than entering the program for alcohol or drug abuse.

Deferred Prosecution is typically brought up when a defendant is charged with a DUI. ¬†Because DUI’s have mandatory minimum jail penalties from 30 -120 days in jail for subsequent convictions within seven years, deferred is an attractive alternative to months in jail. ¬†However, the program is open to all misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses.


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