Deferred prosecution agreements
Prosecutors in criminal cases often have to make difficult judgements about whether or not to prosecute. This is particularly so in cases involving complex economic crime – fraud, bribery and so on. The Coalition Government has just announced a consultation on ‘deferred prosecution agreements’ – basically a formal arrangement whereby, for agreeing to assist with an investigation, any prosecution will be deferred.
The Consultation Paper states:
‘Under a DPA, the prosecutor would lay, but would not immediately proceed with, criminal charges pending successful compliance with agreed terms and conditions stated in the DPA. The terms and conditions might include:
- payment of a financial penalty;
- restitution for victims;
- disgorgement of the profits of wrongdoing; and
- measures to prevent future offending (a monitoring or reporting requirement).
These would be discussed and agreed between the parties and then placed before a judge for consideration and approval. Time limits would be attached to the terms and conditions so that compliance can be managed and it will be clear when the agreement should cease.
Our intention is that this new tool will enhance prosecutors’ ability to detect and pursue economic crime committed by commercial organisations and to ensure economic offending which takes place across more than one jurisdiction is dealt with more effectively, as well as achieving better outcomes for victims.’
As with cautions and other recent innovations in the criminal justice system, this represents another development outside the historic ‘due process’ model of the criminal justice system.
The consultation runs for three months until 9 August 2012; developments with the idea will be kept under review.
For further detail go to: