The information below is accurate to the authors’ knowledge at the time it was written. This is general information and is not a substitute for legal advice.
A deferred judgment is a sentencing option where a defendant pleads guilty and is placed on probation.
The judge sets the conditions of probation. The conditions vary, but may include the following:
Monetary fine (also called a civil penalty)
Substance abuse evaluation and treatment
No law violations other than traffic violations
If you successfully complete probation, the case will be expunged and sealed from public record. However, it may still be visible on background checks. Note: even after expungement, a deferred judgment could be considered a conviction. Certain cases are eligible for expungement without a deferred judgment.
If you violate any of the conditions of probation, the deferred judgment could be revoked, and you would return to court for re-sentencing.
You can only receive two deferred judgments in your lifetime, and they are not guaranteed. There are pros and cons to receiving a deferred judgment. For example, you may not want to request a deferred judgment in a minor case in order to preserve it as an option in a future, more serious case. Further, you may prefer to plead guilty and pay a fine instead of completing the conditions of probation.