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Deferred Judgment and Sentence

Deferred Judgment and Sentence

Plea-bargaining of your case may result in a deferred judgment and sentence (“DJ”). This type of agreement is common in domestic violence cases or for first time drug possession cases. The accused pleads guilty to an agreed upon offense but, as the name implies, the entry of a judgment of conviction and the actual sentence is deferred for a specified period. Upon successful completion of the terms of the agreement, the guilty plea is withdrawn and the case dismissed.

Being on a deferred judgment and sentence is similar to probation. There are usually standard conditions such as anger management classes, drug-alcohol treatment or domestic violence treatment. There may also be community service. Remaining out of trouble with no new criminal charges (no more than a 6 point traffic offense) is always a condition. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be supervised by probation office or by a diversion counselor working for the prosecutor’s office.

In the event you do not successfully complete the terms of your deferred judgment and sentence a motion to revoke that agreement may be filed with the Court. The defendant is not entitled to a trial on the underlying case; only a hearing to determine if the agreement was violated. The defendant has already pled guilty. Once the Court establishes the terms of the agreement were broken; the case goes directly to sentencing.

Early termination of the deferred judgment and sentence can only occur with the agreement of the prosecutor. The deferred judgment and sentence is a contract. Without a specific agreement, you cannot have your case dismissed early even if you finish all the classes and community service contained in the agreement.

Successful completion of the deferred judgment and sentence does not mean that your records are sealed. Sealing your arrest and criminal records is a separate process requiring a civil action in the District Court.