Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County District Attorney

Deferred Prosecution Program

Melvin S. Juette, Director
215 S. Hamilton St. Room 3000
Madison, WI 53703
Ph: 608.284.6896   Fax: 608.266.5264

Click here to view the DPP brochure


Mission Statementhands holding brilliantly colored HOPE

Deferred Prosecution Program success depends on our ability to engage, educate, enhance intrinsic motivate and activate defendants by targeting interventions appropriately.

Ensure all defendants leave DPP more competent to function effectively in the community by adequately assessing defendants’ risk and needs and targeting interventions appropriately

Develop a higher degree of accountability for the offense behaviors, as well as their responsibility to repair the harm done, increase victim empathy and community engagement

Improve connection and collaboration with defendants and community resources to provide training and educational opportunities as well as access to healthcare and economic opportunities.



The Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP), formally known as ‘the First Offenders Program’, is run by the Dane County District Attorney's  Office. 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. 

Additionally, participants also agree to take other appropriate measures to assure they do not repeat criminal behavior and follow the conditions: 

  • 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.


Successful completion of a Pre-charge Deferred Prosecution Contract Agreement results in no charges being filed. In successful completion of Post-charge Contract Agreements, the District Attorney’s Office agrees to dismiss or amend the charges. If an offender fails to fulfill the terms of the Contract Agreement, a Pre-charge case will be returned to the District Attorney’s Office for further action. With Post-charge failures, the case is returned to the assigned court branch. This can result in the entry of adjudication and disposition, or it can result in a re-referral to DPP.

“You have helped me grow into the man I am today and cannot be more thankful.”  – DPP Participant 




Deferred Prosecution General Programing (DPP)


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

  • Accepts meaningful responsibility for offense behavior whether Pre or Post-charge. If Post-charge, accepts responsibility for which guilty plea has been entered.
  • Not on supervision or under deferred agreement elsewhere.
  • No pending or open matters filed or under review.
  • Voluntary participation.
  • Have no prior convictions for less than 5 years prior to referring offense (except delinquency, adjudications, low-level non-assaultive misdemeanors, or OWI 1st & 2nd).
  • 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).
  • No repeat domestic violence or family violence offenses.
  • No similar conduct.
  • Prior DPP clients who were returned to court for failure to comply are reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • Director reviews juvenile history to assess risk.
  • Director maintains ability to make exceptions to the above eligibility requirements when compelling circumstances exist.


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. 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 in length from 9 to 36 months. The length of the contract is determined after the initial intake by the assigned counselor based on the above risk factors of each individual.


There is no cost to participate in the Deferred Prosecution Program. However, treatment, counseling, and educational program expenses are 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. Most Common examples of this is include: when a participant is terminated from treatment or other required programming before successful completion, arrested or charged with new illegal behavior proven to a level of probability, otherwise determined to be no longer appropriate due to increased risk factors, or 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. Probation therefore imposes numerous rules and requirements throughout the probationary sentence. This differs greatly from the information about Deferred Prosecution listed in the paragraph below. 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. In post-charge cases, 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 when the opportunity is given to them. Supervision of defendants is provided by DPP counselors who monitor defendants’ progress in meeting contract requirements during scheduled “check-ins.”

In post-charge cases, a defendant’s successful completion of the DPP program will be returned to court for a dismissal in most cases. Record of the charge will remain in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access automated program (CCAP) for a period of two years, 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.

To reference the referral process, please see our DPP Flow Chart.



Deferred Prosecution Child Abuse Initiative (DPP-CAI)

Trisha Telfer, Senior Counselor for DPP-CAI
Child Abuse Specialist
Ph: 608.283.1394

The Dane County District Attorney’s Office continues to respect all individuals' 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 District Attorney’s Office has launched a new diversion program designed to protect all children and strengthen families. Due to a disproportionate number of minorities referred to the District Attorney’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 District Attorney’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.
  • 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 reference the referral process, please see our DPP-CAI Flow Chart.
  • To read more about this initiative, please click here.



Deferred Prosecution Opiate Diversion (DPP-O)

Cheri Wotnoske, BS, CSAC, ICS
Substance Abuse Counselor for DPP-O 
Ph: 608.283.1392

    sketch of brain, half with colored electricity

    DPP-O Mission Statement

    It is the fundamental goal of the Opioid Diversion Program to connect individuals to the best wraparound services that focuses on mental and physical health, to support each participant in achieving sobriety and recovery from substance use. The Deferred Prosecution Opioid Diversion Program (DPP-O), as all of DPP, is committed to the protection and safety of the public, while motivating each participant to change destructive behaviors that led to their original offense(s). DPP-O fully utilizes a wide spectrum of community resources to facilitate the completion of participant contracts that are uniquely tailored to each individual.



    Eligibility for Deferred Prosecution Opiate Diversion Program (DPP-O)

    • Opiate/Opioid abuse issueDPP-O client testimonials
    • Referring offense related to arrest for Possession of Narcotic Drug (Opiate/Opioid only), Possession of Opiate/Opioid Drug Paraphernalia, or Opiate/Opioid related crimes
    • No violent or assaultive convictions, and no violence or assaultive behavior in referral offense (exceptions may be made under certain circumstances)
    • Convictions within the past 5 years are reviewed and may be allowed under certain circumstances
    • Dane County resident, or if outside Dane County, must have valid driver’s license and transportation to maintain minimum twice weekly in-person contact
    • Willingness to comply with rigorous program, as shown in the list of program expectations below
    • No open/unresolved cases in other counties
    • Not on supervision or under a deferred agreement elsewhere
    • Other criteria as shown above under Eligibility


    Expectations of DPP-O Participants

    • Meeting weekly with the DPP-O Counselor until further directed
    • Compliance with random check-ins that include calling in Monday through Friday, and calling/emailing the Counselor with updates, unless otherwise directed
    • Compliance with rigorous drug testing that includes submitting saliva and/or urinalysis as directed by the Counselor
    • Obtaining employment or participate in employment programs as directed
    • Completing written and other assignments as assigned by the Counselor
    • Fully complying with Substance Abuse Counseling/Treatment as directed
    • Complying with other programming when need indicated (mental health, psychiatric/psychological treatment, HSED/GED, OWI compliance, etc.
    • Community service when required
    • Restitution if so ordered via the plea agreement
    • Deferred Prosecution Agreement duration between 9-15 months

    To reference the referral process, please see our DPP-O Flow Chart.

    Deferred Prosecution Opioid Diversion Program Admission Paperwork for participants already referred to DPP-O from the District Attorney’s Office:
    DPP-O Participant Handbook

    COVID-19 Updates

    Many of the DPP protocols listed above have been adjusted during the Covid-19 pandemic. The adjustments have been in the best interest of all participants healing and recovery, while additionally balancing the need for safety for all parties. All participants have been educated on these changes and expectations during the transition. DPP continues to accept new referrals and admissions during Covid-19, and has been able to maintain full operations of all services, including face-to-face contact via internet platforms.