By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Many changes have and are taking effect under new Criminal District Attorney Greg Willis.
Amongst those changes are changes to Collin County’s Deferred Prosecution Program. That program was originally instituted by former District Attorney John R. Roach, Sr. and allowed youthful “offenders” the opportunity to avoid having their cases be filed formally in exchange for a less-formal probation under the supervision of the Collin County Community Supervision department (probation).
There were many complaints about how Mr. Roach’s administration ran the program. For example, there were formal guidelines set in place that were inflexible and could be somewhat arbitrary. For example, people were refused entry into the program because they did not reply within the narrow time frame given to them regardless of the reason.
Also, the method in which people were contacted was suspect. First, the person would receive direct notification of the program via an unsigned letter bearing the letter-head of the probation department. The letter would invite the offender and his/her parents to come and confess to the crime — and that they would then be considered for admission into Deferred Prosecution Program (the letters did not come from the DA’s office). Lawyers in Texas cannot directly contact persons they know to be represented by counsel in opposing matters.
The new Collin County DA’s policy towards the Deferred Prosecution Program takes a far more common-sense approach. It appears as though they are evaluating the program on a case-by-case basis and they are willing to review cases submitted to them for review. It’s guesswork at this point as to how exactly the old-guidelines will play into the new decision making, but the Defense lawyer community is hopeful that the program will be more fair and available to people deserving a second chance.
Obviously, the DA’s office has to draw the line somewhere with allowing people into the Deferred Prosecution Program — which means that not everyone will get what they want. At least everyone will be heard. And that’s a huge change.
Ask your lawyer about the Deferred Prosecution Program in Collin County if you think it’s an option for your case or your child’s case.
*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice for any specific situation, you should directly consult with an attorney.