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1) To qualify for a deferred prosecution (first offenders program) in WI, you must meet the following criteria:
- Accepts meaningful responsibility for offense behavior to 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 1 & 2).
- No prior probation or DPU 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.
- No prior DPU clients who were returned to court for failure to comply
- Director reviews juvenile history to assess risk.
- Director maintains ability to make exceptions when compelling circumstances exist.
Thus, if your theft case was more than 5 years ago you could qualify for the deferred prosecution.
2) A person charged with a criminal offense generally will be required to use an attorney to negotiate any type of meaningful plea agreement with the prosecution. This is because prosecutors generally will not speak directly with defendants because they are afraid that they will violate the defendant's fifth amendment rights as anything you say to the prosecutor can be used against you. Also, prosecutors do not have to give defendants any deals, so the best deals are usually obtained by attorneys who frequent the court and have good professional relationships with the prosecutors.
3) An expungement hides your record from the general public, including employers. It does not hide your record from law enforcement or state or federal licensing agencies and they will still be able to see the record and that it was expunged.
4) The WI prosecutors are not very liberal with these plea agreements or expungements either. It is situational of course, meaning it depends on the actual charges you have against you, the evidence the prosecutor has and your attorney's relationship with the prosecutor.
5) Again, like the plea agreement, getting the state to amend charges is not easy. It depends on the evidence against you and how able your attorney is to negotiate with the prosecutor. It is rare a defendant without a prosecutor will get a prosecutor to reduce charges unless their evidence on the original charge is weak.
6) You cannot contact the DA without your attorney. Once you have an attorney the DA cannot legally speak to you under the 6th Amendment and the rules of professional conduct which prohibit the DA from speaking to a represented party. Furthermore, very few DAs will engage in any meaningful negotiation with the defendant directly because, as I said above, they do not want to violate your 5th Amendment rights in that anything you tell them can be used against you and also because of your 6th Amendment right to representation. Prosecutors are very, very cautious about talking to defendants directly and do so very rarely.
7) Deferred prosecution is better than expungement because when you complete the deferred prosecution the disposition of the offense against you would be listed as a dismissed charge and not a conviction. Typically the deferred prosecution is done and then the defendant applies for an expungement of the dismissed charge, so they work together.
8) With an expungement you can get all of your records removed including fingerprints with order of the court. Again, law enforcement still can have access to your record with expungement, but the court can order your fingerprints expunged too by special request of the court.
9) Expungement removes your record from view of everyone but the courts and law enforcement and some government licensing agencies, but it is for all others hidden from view.
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