We get calls every week from people who entered into a deferred judgment and sentence and candidly they do not know what that means or how it works. A deferred judgment and sentence does not count as a conviction under Colorado State law.
In Colorado, you might be eligible for a deferred judgment and sentence if you’re facing certain criminal offenses. That means, in exchange for pleading guilty, you’ll need to meet certain conditions during probation. If you complete all of your requirements during your deferred sentence, your case will be dismissed. If you violate any of the terms of your deferred judgment, however, you might face immediate sentencing for the criminal offense.
What is a Deferred Judgment?
The way a deferred judgment works is that you sign the paperwork that you want to enter a plea of guilty. You appear in front of the Judge and enter a plea of guilty; the Judge accepts your plea of guilty but does NOT enter the conviction on the record. You do not have a conviction even though you entered a plea of guilty. Instead, the Judge continues (or defers) entering the judgment on the record. The Judge defers entering the judgment (or conviction) on the record for a period of time upon the condition you have no further violations of the law, and you complete whatever reasonable terms the Judge and probation impose. At the end of the period of time, the Court will review the file and if you have completed the reasonable terms and have no further violations of the law (great than a 6 point traffic violation) they will dismiss the case and shred your plea of guilty.
Who is Eligible for a Deferred Judgment?
A deferred judgment is usually negotiated between the district attorney and the defendant’s lawyer, which is why it’s imperative to have legal counsel representing you if you’re facing criminal charges. First-time minor offenses are most likely to be deferred. These may include things like:
- Drug possession for personal use
- Traffic violations
- Public intoxication
It becomes harder to get a deferred judgment if you have prior criminal offenses on your record, if you’ve been arrested for a DUI, or if you’re facing a serious felony conviction.
What Will Be Required of You During Your Deferred Judgment?
This is up to the judge and delivered on a case-to-case basis, but some penalties might include:
- Random drug testing
- Anger management classes
- Drug or alcohol education classes
- Prohibited contact from certain individuals
- Limited travel privileges
- Job or school attendance
- Community service
- Letters of apology
- Restitution to victims
- No additional law violations
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, reach out to our team at The Law Offices of M. Colin Bresee. A deferred judgment may allow you to avoid having a criminal conviction on your record, but you’ll need the experience of a Colorado criminal defense attorney by your side to navigate the process.