Deferred Judgement

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A deferred judgment refers to a postponed or delayed judgment. In a deferred judgment, the court gives a defendant an opportunity to complete a probationary period before sentencing and prior to any entry of conviction. If the defendant successfully completes probation at the conclusion of the probationary period the court will review the defendant's file and may dismiss the charges against him/her. If, however, the defendant does not follow all of the terms and conditions of probation the court may enter the conviction and sentence the defendant accordingly. Normally, if a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of criminal charges the case proceeds to sentencing. If a deferred judgment is obtained the case is frozen between the guilty plea and sentencing.


As a result of a plea agreement with the prosecution, you plead guilty to one or more charges. You are placed on probation prior to sentencing and prior to any entry of conviction. If you successfully complete your probationary period your guilty plea is withdrawn and the case against you dismissed... The record shows that the charges against you were dismissed so your record remains clean. If you are alleged to violate the terms of the deferred judgment, a hearing will be held.


Q: Does community service or probation still appear on your permanent record?

A: Community service and probation are types of criminal sentences. You can only be sentenced after you plead guilty to a crime or are found guilty by a judge or jury.

If you plead guilty on a deferred judgment or suspended sentence, you won't have a permanent record once you successfully complete the probation or community service. At that point, the law considers the guilty plea withdrawn as if it was never entered. There are, however, some circumstances in which you can still be penalized for it. For example, deferred sentences count as one point in computing your criminal history under federal sentencing guidelines.

If you plead guilty with no deferment of the sentence or conviction, or if you are found guilty following a trial, you'll have a permanent record.

If you pleaded guilty and don't know whether it was to a deferred sentence type of arrangement, you can go to the courthouse where you entered your guilty plea and ask to see your file. There will be a docket sheet or other listing of court minutes inside, containing the terms of your plea and sentence, including whether the judgment was deferred.

Q: Does deferred prosecution mean you have to admit to the felony you've been accused of?

A: No. Generally, there are two types of deferred resolutions to criminal charges: a deferred prosecution and a deferred judgment.

In a deferred prosecution, the proceedings in a criminal case are put off for a period of time, say one year, subject to certain conditions. The typical condition is that the defendant not be charged or convicted of other crimes during this period. At the end of the time period, if all conditions have been met, the charges are dismissed. No plea of guilty or judgment of conviction is entered. If the defendant doesn't comply with the conditions of the deferred prosecution, the prosecution of the case continues and the defendant can either plead guilty or go to trial.

With a deferred judgment, the defendant must enter a plea of guilty. The case is continued for a period of time subject to certain conditions, usually including that the defendant not be convicted of another crime. If the defendant satisfies these conditions, at the end of the time period the guilty plea is considered withdrawn and no judgment of conviction or sentence is entered. While the defendant is free to say he's never been convicted of a crime, the guilty plea could have possible future ramifications. For example, deferred judgments are counted in computing a defendant's criminal history score under the federal sentencing guidelines.

In addition, if the defendant violates the terms of a deferred judgment, the guilty plea goes into effect and the court will proceed to sentencing without a trial. Obviously, from a defendant's standpoint, a deferred prosecution is preferable to a deferred judgment. Prosecutors also offer it far less frequently.

It's a good idea to discuss any decision on whether to take a deferred prosecution or deferred judgment with a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Contributors: sandra
Created by sandra, Oct 7th, 2010 at 06:35 PM
Last edited by sandra, Oct 7th, 2010 at 06:35 PM
2 Comments , 23460 Views
Old Oct 8th, 2010, 09:44 AM   #2

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I got a DJ and afterwards my record never showed any issue at all.
It seems like it never happened.
Dont know if that was intended or not.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2011, 04:08 PM   #3

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Default Re: Deferred Judgement

This is why all the young people move out of Iowa and move to other States.
I was 18 and took a 6pack of beer from the convenience store I worked at for a friend, got busted and got a deferred judgement.
At 18 most people don't know nothing, as did I, it's not something you get taught in school, instead you get taught crap you'll never use in life.
Now I'm 22 and want to go to college and have the opportunity to get a good job, and this slaps me in the face. So Iowa.........See ya later.
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