What is a deferred sentence? 41 Answers as of June 14, 2011

What does deferred sentence mean?

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Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP | Locke T. Clifford
A "deferred prosecution" or "deferred dismissal" generally means a person was put on a first offender's program, given some conditions or things to do as part of the program, then told that if they complete the conditions, then the charge would be dismissed. I am unfamiliar with the term "deferred judgment," but would guess it is similar in nature to a deferred prosecution, where the prosecution/judgment would be delayed to give the defendant an opportunity to complete a first offender's program and get the charge dismissed.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 6/14/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Deferred Adjudication is similar to Probation with one major exception. You are not convicted.

Here is how it works, if you are charged with a criminal act, there are two options before you. You can fight or plead.

A fight means you are saying you are not guilty and the State has to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With a Trial, you have all the rights, protections, etcetera that you have seen on countless TV shows and movies, and while there are rarely those "Perry Mason" moments when the witness suddenly confesses under cross-examination - in fact, that is pretty much TV only - the rest of the trial process is accurately depicted in most movies. You can have your trial to the Judge only (a Bench Trial) or to a Jury. Keep in mind, the State has a right to a jury trial too, so you have a Bench trial only if both sides agree. Unlike a trial, a plea bargain is just that, an agreement between the Citizen Accused and the state in which the Citizen Accused agrees to plea guilty to the crime, thereby saving the State the difficulty and cost of putting on a trial, bringing the witnesses and all the show that goes with it; and the State agrees to recommend to the Judge that the Defendant be punished in a particular fashion, thereby relieving the Defendant of the necessity of calling witnesses, putting on a defense, and most importantly, living with he anxiety of not knowing what the punishment will be if convicted. Which brings me to Deferred Adjudication. As part of a plea bargain, the State can recommend the Judge "defer a finding of guilt".

What this means is that the Defendant pleads guilty and the Judge states that the Defendant's plea alone is sufficient evidence, but the Judge will not find them guilty at this time. Rather, the Defendant is put on Deferred Adjudication Probation for a certain time period. During this time period the Defendant is not found guilty as a matter of law, but the determination is not final. In other words, the judgment is pending. There is a Judicial Order (Judgment) finding the Defendant Guilty in the file, it is not signed by the Judge. Until it is signed, there is no "official finding of guilt" and the Defendant is not convicted. He/she can apply for jobs and when asked if convicted of a crime, he/she can honestly say "no". Otherwise, it looks and feels just like regular probation.

The Defendant attends probation meetings, has to comply with the terms and conditions of probation, pay fines, pay court cost, and most importantly, stay out of trouble. It is important to understand Probation (regular and deferred) is a contract. It is a contract between a defendant and the Court in which the Court agrees suspend some part of the Defendant's punishment in exchange for the Defendant's agreement to follow certain conditions: report to a Probation Officer on a monthly basis, pay probation fees, attend certain classes, maintain a job, commit no crimes, don't associate with people that commit crimes, don't drink, don't do drugs, etc.

The distinction that probation is contractual which is important because the burden of proof on breach of contract is preponderance of the evidence (a.k.a. the 51% rule, or it is more likely than not). This is a very low burden, so you do not have to commit a new crime and be found guilty of the new crime to violate probation because the new crime is subject to the Beyond a Reasonable Doubt standard. In other words, the state only has to prove it is more likely than not that you committed a new crime or it is more likely than not that you did drugs, or more likely than not that you broke one of the many other terms and conditions to hold you liable for violating probation.

If you do violate the terms and conditions in a regular probation case, the Court can either continue you on probation, extend your probation, or revoke your probation. If revoked, you can go to prison/jail or suffer whatever punishment was previously suspended. In a Deferred Probation case, if you are found to have violated the terms, the Judge can do anything he/she can do in a regular probation, but most important to this discussion, he/she signs that Judgment of Guilt that was previously sitting in the file and from then on, the Defendant cannot say he/she has never been convicted of a crime. In a speeding ticket situation - the balance of the fine can be ordered paid and the ticket is put on your driving record. Deferred Adjudication gives both the Defense Lawyer and the State's Attorney extra tools to work with in resolving a matter that is not appropriate for trial.

If a Client is scared, most are, it gives them one more way out - no jail and no conviction. The pitfall is that there are cases that should never be charged, cases the State's Attorney should never have pressed but were because there is that option - close the case without quitting and without a conviction. But, more importantly, it is a valuable tool to close a case in which an otherwise upstanding citizen just made one bad choice or was in the wrong place at the wrong time (likely with the wrong people). In this case, punishment can be dealt without a final conviction that will haunt the defendant forever.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 4/27/2011
Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
A deferred sentence (also sometimes known as a "diversion") is an alternative way of settling a pending criminal charge in which the offender pleads guilty or no-contest to the charge but asks the court to hold the sentencing open for a period of time. In that period of time the defendant usually agrees to accomplish some tasks such as a treatment program or community service or pay restitution (or just stay out of trouble).

At the close of the time period agreed on or ordered by the court, if the defendant is in compliance with whatever the agreement was, the State will either dismiss the charge or ask the court to enter a sentence of discharge (meaning no fine, jail or probation) or some other agreed-upon resolution, if the defendant is not in compliance, the court then sentences the defendant to jail or probation or whatever may have been agreed upon by the parties. Deferred sentences are usually negotiated with the District Attorney or Prosecutor's office as they often involve dismissal of charges which is something the DA usually has sole discretion to do, although sometimes the court also has the power to order a deferred sentence on it's own motion.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/27/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
It may be deferred for a period of probation. A deferred entry of a guilty plea is usually part of a good behavior disposition where ultimately the charges are dismissed, so long as the Defendant completes the period of good behavior without incident. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 4/26/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
Usually, a deferred sentence is where the court will accept a plea but not make a finding of guilt and not impose a sentence. The offender is then placed on release. If there is any problem in the future the offender is brought back before the Court for adjudication and to be sentenced.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 4/27/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    A deferred sentence is simply a delaying of the imposition of the sentence to permit the defendant to complete an agreed disposition. This is also called a diversion. Usually when a diversion or deferred sentence is completed as agreed, the charges are dismissed with no further chance of prosecution.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
    A deferred sentence means that you enter a plea of guilty or no contest to a criminal charge and the court acknowledges but does not accept your plea. Instead, you are given a period of time in which to complete certain requirements. If you do, the charge against you may be dismissed or discharged and you would not face a criminal conviction.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You plead guilty. You are on probation. You do everything the court orders, stay out of trouble and the case is dismissed at the end of the deferral period. It is important that you pay all your fines and provide proof of compliance with your probation to the court and probation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    If you are the defendant, youd better be asking your questions of your attorney before you agree to anything. It you dont have an attorney, get one immediately. If serious about doing so, feel free to contact me.

    It means the defendant pleads guilty, but is not immediately sentenced, not until a hearing set out in the future. It is generally used as a form of probation; typically the defendant goes a year or so without further arrest for anything and the original charges are dismissed or reduced per the plea bargain agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    I hope you mean deferred entry of judgment. This means that if you complete your probation requirements you can withdraw your plea and have the charges dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Subin
    Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
    Are you talking about a deferred prosecution on A DUI? That means 2 years alcohol treatment. If the treatment is completed successfully, the DUI will be dismissed. A deferred sentence on some other type of case means that if you do what they are asking you to do, and stay out of trouble for a specified time period, the case against you will be dismissed. IN general, its a pretty good deal for the defendant. Please feel free to call or contact me with any other questions.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    A defferred sentence is one that does not start until some time in the future.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/26/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It usually refers to some type of diversion program where after you are convicted you are not actually sentenced but are placed on a term of supervision during which you have to do some type of program like a drug program if it is a drug offense. Violation of the terms of your deferred sentence mean you the can be sentenced to up to the maximum of the offense to which you plead guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Thank you fro your inquiry. A Deferred Sentence means that the ultimate sentence in the case is defferred to a specific date in the future. The statute number is MCL 771.1. The practical meaning is that upon accepting a plea, the matter is placed on the record and all of the fines, and other conditions of the sentence are imposed. On the deferral date, the Court can decide to remove the matter from the record. Upon removal, no conviction. I hope this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    A deferred sentence is a period of incarceration in jail or prison, deferred to a future date. Usually, if the accused does everything he is ordered to do by the court, the sentence is vacated before he serves the time. However, if he goofs up, he will serve the time the court ordered originally.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    That means that sentencing will be postponed or held in limbo until you complete some terms of probation, treatment programs, or whatever else the court decides. If you are successful with what they ask you to do, then at the time of sentencing the charges will not appear on your record. Not all courts or jurisdictions use them however.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    A deferred sentence means the Judge puts off your sentence until something else is done or happens or is completed. Those things could be a treatment program or anything else the Judge directs. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers | Alexander Sanchez
    A deferred sentence takes place after a person has pled guilty to a crime. Instead of the Judge immediately sentencing the defendant, he decides to defer the sentence for an extended period of time just to see how the defendant is doing. The Judge will monitor the defendant's progress, and if he behaves well over a long period of time, the Judge will sentence him to the agreed upon sentence. If, however, the defendant gets in trouble again, then all bets are off, and the Judge is then free to sentence the defendant to the maximum sentence.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    It means you plead guilty to a charge, are placed on 'probation' with conditions of probation you must meet. If you do everything required, at the end of the 'probation' your guilty plea is withdrawn + you have no conviction. You can then, in a separate case, petition to seal the records of the case so it does not show up on background checks.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Mercado & Hartung
    Mercado & Hartung | Stephanie Hartung
    A deferred sentence (not be to confused with a deferred prosecution) means that a judge has put aside the sentence for a period of time (1-2 years on average depending on the underlying offense) and at the end of the period as long as the defendant has complied with sentence requirements the charge will be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    It means that the judge has given a sentence, but based on the defendant's promises and assurances, the sentence will either never be carried out, or will be carried out only after the defendant has proven he was unworthy of the sentence in the first place. For example, five years to seerve in prison suspended upon completion of GED, 500 hours of community service and payment of restitution. The defendant assures the judge he will do all of it. One year later, the defendant has ten excuses for why the GED has not been completed, why only 10 hours of community service has been completed, and only $ 100 in restitution. The judge "unsuspends" the sentence and the defendant is taken into custody to serve the prison term.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Beard Law Group, P.C.
    Beard Law Group, P.C. | Christopher Beard
    A deferred sentence is a sentence that is suspended until after a defendant has completed a period of probation. If the defendant fulfills the requirements/stipulations surrounding a probationary period, a judge may then throw out the sentence and guilty plea, clearing the incident from their record.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    This usually means that if you don't do the things the court has ordered you to do then they can make you fulfill that sentence.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 4/25/2011
    Avioli Law, P.C.
    Avioli Law, P.C. | Michael Avioli
    Usually means court placed u on probation without a sentence- no jail time or fine imposed.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    Normally you are required to complete a program and the sentence is deferred. When you finish, the case is dismissed. Some counties may do it differently.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts
    Law Office of Andrew Roberts | Andrew Stephen Roberts
    This basically means that your sentence is on hold = and may even be dismissed if you complete certain classes; stay out of trouble; etc. If you screw up the sentence will be given . For example- 90 days custody; deferred if you attend 6 classes and stay out of trouble for one year.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    In short, a deferred sentence is when you enter a plea and there is a period given by the judge. If during that time frame you satisfy the requirements as laid out by the judge, then your plea and conviction will basically be withdrawn. You should speak to your attorney specifically about your case and the deal that is on the table to clarify the situation further for you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    It means you get sentenced BUT you do not do your time - you will only do the time if you violate probation or some other provision of the sentence. Don't screw this one up.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    It would seem additional facts may be necessary to answer your question. Without some context, it is difficult to know what you may be referring to. There are deferred prosecution agreements. There are deferred adjudications. There are also, in some counties, deferred sentences where a judge imposes a sentence that may be served over different time periods. For example, a deferred sentence may be for ninety (90) days but served over a three year period. A Judge may require 30 days in year one, 30 days in year two and 30 days in year three. With such sentences, the Judge may entertain a Motion to defer the sentence in subsequent years if the defendant remains law abiding.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    California Criminal Defense Center
    California Criminal Defense Center | Ardalon Fakhimi
    A deferred sentence, also known as a deferred entry of judgement, is when a court puts continues the sentencing (or punishment) in a criminal case for a designated period of time in order to allow a defendant to perform some negotiated act (ie. drug program, payment of restitution, completion of a class, etc....). If the defendant satisfactorily completes the required act, then the the defendant will not be sentenced and the matter is typically dismissed. If, however, the defendant fails to perform the designated act, then the defendant will be sentenced, thereby resulting in a conviction of the charged offense. The defendant typically would not have the option of asking for a trial because he/she had already pled guilty. All that remained was the sentencing aspect of the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    It means that you pleas guilty and if you successfully complete probation, the case will be dismissed with no criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    A deferred sentence means that the incarcerated time is delayed for a period of time based on remaining of good behavior and any other conditions imposed by the court. The person sentenced must file a motion a month prior the expiration in order to prevent the time from being imposed.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    That means you plead guilty or no contest, but the sentencing is postponed to a later date. This is often done when you have to do something (ie. a class) to earn a dismissal or reduction. If you do what is asked of you, then when you come back at a later date for sentencing the case is dismissed (or whatever was agreed upon). If you don't, then you will be sentenced accordingly.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    It means that your sentencing is postponed until after you successfully complete a class. Once that is done, the charge is dismissed as if it never happened. It's a great opportunity.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    Typically a "deferred sentence" occurs where a defendant is getting the opportunity to have their case dismissed or perhaps he or she will receive a lighter sentence at a later date, if they either "stay out of trouble" and/or complete some other required activity (community service, educational classes, AA meetings, etc.) If the person doesn't do these things and/or gets into trouble, the "deferred sentence" is imposed, meaning the case won't be dismissed and the heavier sentence is imposed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Deferred entry of judgment. Usually with drug violations other than sales, transportation and possession for sales. Compplete a program. Stay out of trouble for 18 to 36 months. Case is dismissed. NO conviction on your record (arrest remains).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
    A deferred sentence is a plea agreement whereby the Defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contender to the charge. The sentencing is deferred for a period of time in which the Defendant must refrain from any further law violations and possibly complete some conditions. After the agreed upon period has run, if Defendant has completed all the requirements the charges are dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 4/24/2011
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    This depends. Usually when a deferred sentence is brought up, it is brought up in the context of a deferred entry of judgment. This is where the DA asks you to do certain things and when you are done, the case is dismissed. This is good. This will keep whatever crime you are alleged to have committed off your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2011
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