DREAM FAQs

Effective March 16, 2020, our FPD operations are open and we are working, but our offices are closed to visitors. Please reach us via telephone at 206.553.1100 or 253.593.6710. We will update you when this changes. 

DREAM is a federal program modeled after drug courts that divert persons with a substance addiction from prison. If a person successfully completes the program the criminal charge is dismissed.  The goal is to address past patterns of criminal behavior by providing rehabilitation, which in turn serves to protect the safety of the community. It involves a blend of treatment and sanctions as alternatives to the traditional prosecution and sentencing model. Participants must plead guilty before beginning the program, but the sentencing is delayed until the person successfully completes the program at which point the charge is dismissed.

DREAM is staffed with a District Court Judge, Assistant United States Attorneys, United States Probation Officers, a CJA Panel Attorney, an Assistant Federal Public Defender, and a paralegal or social worker from the Federal Public Defender’s Office.

For more information about the program, its principles, and your eligibility consult with your lawyer. Also see the Interagency Agreement, which more fully describes the program.

To be accepted in DREAM  (1) there must be some connection between the crime charged and a  substance abuse problem; (2) the offense must be one of those listed in the Interagency Agreement;  (3) the applicant must be a lawful resident or citizen of the United States and reside in the Western District of Washington; (4) the applicant must have no more than one prior felony conviction; (5) the applicant must accept responsibility and disclose all information regarding the crimes charged; (6) if the applicant has mental health conditions, they must be manageable; and (7) the applicant cannot be working as an informant. For more detailed information please consult with your defense lawyer and read the Interagency Agreement.

If you have questions, please discuss DREAM with your defense lawyer.

No. Eligibility does not guarantee enrollment in the program. To participate in DREAM, the applicant must be approved unanimously by the Executive Review Team, which consists of a District Court Judge, two Assistant United States Attorneys, an Assistant Federal Public Defender, a CJA Panel Attorney, and a Probation Officer.

The applicant’s defense counsel is responsible for filing in the application, as well as providing any and all supporting information. Check with your defense lawyer to obtain a copy of the application. 

A detention order does not preclude eligibility or acceptance into DREAM.

If accepted into the program, once a release plan is approved, an Appearance Bond will be entered that includes any conditions of release deemed appropriate by the District Court Judge. See Interagency Agreement, p. 8. For more information, contact your lawyer.

Applications for the DREAM program are due three weeks before the next DREAM Executive Review Team Meeting. The Executive Review Team meets every month, and the calendar is listed on the District Court website.

The Court will notify defense counsel by email that the client was accepted into the program.  The participant will then plead guilty under a written plea agreement, if s/he has not already done so, but a sentencing date will not be set.

The participant and defense counsel will then appear at the next DREAM hearing to review and sign the DREAM Contract, and formally enter the program before the District Court Judge, Executive Review Team, and other participants.

Before the DREAM hearing date, the participant’s defense counsel should call the Assistant Federal Public Defender or the paralegal or social worker assigned to the team to discuss the process and other details.

DREAM participants are involved in the program for at least 12 months and up to 24 months. The program is intended to be flexible with an understanding that the process to recovery is different for everyone.

During the program, the participant remains on her/his pretrial release bond. Standard conditions of all bonds include the requirement to obey all laws, not use or possess controlled substances or alcohol, report as directed to the DREAM Probation Officer(s), submit to drug testing, notify any doctors, including a dentist, of the substance abuse history, and follow all treatment directives by the treatment provider and DREAM Executive Review Team.

Each participant is also expected to appear in the monthly DREAM hearings, and a mandatory pre-hearing meeting with the other participants and the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office. Before graduating, the participant also completes a written “journey” assignment that s/he shares in open court.

The Executive Review Team will work with the participant to assess and approve treatment providers, living and work opportunities, and to review any needed program changes. By graduation, the participant should be strong in her/his recovery and have better coping skills so s/he will not repeat the mistakes of the past. 

The most obvious incentive is a dismissal of the charges with prejudice rather than a felony conviction and incarceration. Other incentives include reduced urinalysis testing and/or other conditions of supervision, commemorating milestones with a special pen or coins, and limited Second Chance Act support for transitional expenses when available. 

Depending on the program violation, sanctions may range from a verbal reprimand to additional writing assignments and supervision requirements, such as watching sentencing hearings, increased drug testing, a short term of incarceration, or the involuntary termination from DREAM and the imposition of a sentence.

DREAM is voluntary. If you do not want to complete the program, you can voluntarily terminate from the program. The case will then be set for sentencing and the sentence will be informed by your good faith efforts in the program and the previously entered plea and plea agreement.

Yes.  DREAM hearings are held once a month, typically on a Friday afternoon beginning at 1:00pm before the Honorable Richard A. Jones on the 13th floor of the U.S. District Court at 700 Stewart Street in Seattle.

If you attend a hearing, please introduce yourself to the Federal Public Defender staff who will be at that hearing.