Deferred judgments can sometimes result in convictions, and sometimes not. But the ball is generally in your court. Knowing your attorney is going to give you good advice on possible impacts of any sentence can make a lifetime of difference. Often, the advice you get from your attorney about whether a deferred judgment is right for you is, “it depends.”
Deferred judgments can apply to any type of case and if you’re lucky enough to receive such an offer or work with an attorney they could help to mitigate a harsher offer down to a deferred judgment. You may even be able to seal a deferred judgment after successful completion. However, even if some cases were successfully deferred and dismissed, you may not be able to seal it later depending on the type of case, whether you took a split plea, etc.
An experienced attorney can help you understand what is eligible for sealing and what is not, but you should definitely know this upfront. A deferred judgment may show up as a felony arrest even after dismissal and can count against you in terms of housing, job search, benefits, etc. for the rest of your life. Know in advance what you’re getting yourself into!
A Colorado Front Range defense attorney such as those at Nicol Gersch Petterson can help you understand your particular situation and advise you as to what’s best.
What Exactly is a Deferred Judgment?
A deferred judgment is a form of a plea deal, where you make a plea of “guilty” to criminal charges but then the guilty plea and conviction are suspended (i.e., hanging over your head) until you meet certain requirements within an allotted time frame set forth by the court. In addition to the understanding that you stay out of trouble, these requirements can include the completion of probation, treatment, classes, community service, or some form of diversion program.
Once you have met the conditions of your deferred judgment, your case will be dismissed and the guilty plea withdrawn. The conviction will never enter on your record. The intended benefit of a deferred judgment combined with sealing your records is to provide you with a fresh start. If you violate the terms of your deferred judgment, however, the conviction comes crashing down on you with very little fanfare. And the court can impose any of the original sentencing ranges for the crime, including up to the maximum penalty, jail time and/or fines. But let’s focus on the good, not on the bad.
For more information on sealing your case after you rock your deferred sentence, click here. Also, more info on the forms and subcategories (including the penalty if you mess it up the first time and need to reapply to seal later) can be found here.
Qualifying for a Deferred Judgment
First-time minor offenses, including minor drug possession for personal use, some traffic violations, or public intoxication are the most likely cases to be considered for a diversion type of offer. Other cases, such as misdemeanor Domestic Violence cases, and first-time minor offenses may qualify for a deferred judgment offer. Really, whether to offer such a plea deal is within the purview of the District Attorney assigned to the case. Even serious cases can result in a deferred judgment offer if there are proof problems, it’s a difficult case, the alleged victim doesn’t want to go forward, or there are significant mitigating circumstances.
If you have a prior criminal record, are being charged with a drunk driving arrest, or more serious felony charge, however, you may find it more difficult to get a deferred judgment offer. An experienced Colorado Front Range criminal defense attorney can help you identify ways to improve on an initial plea offer from the DA, and the attorneys at Nicol Gersch Petterson are well-versed in how to best present your mitigation to the DA assigned.
A Deferred Judgment is Still Going to Impact Your Life
While a deferred judgment is not considered a conviction and you can answer “no” when asked if you have been convicted of a crime. You may still want to disclose it of your own accord as it will show up on any criminal background checks unless it’s been sealed after the fact.
In Colorado, most eligible cases can be sealed immediately upon successful completion of the deferred judgment. Even when you’ve successfully completed the terms of your deferred judgment and your case dismissed, all of the arrest records will likely still appear in your background with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
A Colorado Front Range Defense Attorney Can Advise You Thoroughly
At the end of the day, your lawyer will be able to provide you with guidance on whether a deferred judgment is your best option. Contact Justie or Jenn at Nicol Gersch Petterson any time for information about deferred judgments and whether it’s right for you. Just yesterday, Justie spoke with a potential client and advised him he didn’t even need to hire an attorney as he was getting a great offer based on the facts of his case. Yeah, we’re THOSE attorneys that will turn down work if it’s not in the client’s best interest… Just some food for thought! Let us help you get justice today!
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship. It’s a blog post and not legal advice. Each case is different, and this post is meant for generalized knowledge, only. If you haven’t signed an engagement letter (or even received an engagement letter) AND issued some form of payment (peanuts do not count), then no attorney-client relationship exists. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality should you choose to contact us privately, but do not post about your case in the comments here (because reaching out for help with your case should be confidential, damn it).
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