Deferred Judgment or Sentence in Iowa
What are deferred judgments or deferred sentences? What is their purpose and benefit?
Deferred Judgments and Sentences in IowaWhen the court defers judgment both the adjudication of guilt and the imposition of sentence are deferred, subject to compliance with conditions set by the court as a requirement of the deferred judgment. A deferred sentence is similar but the court enters an adjudication of guilt but defers imposition of sentence, subject to compliance with conditions set by the court as a requirement of the deferred sentence. A deferred judgment or deferred sentence is usually considered a more favorable sentence than a suspended sentence where the court enters judgment of guilt, imposes a sentence and then suspends the execution of the sentence subject to compliance with the conditions set by the court as a requirement of the suspended sentence. Deferred judgment and deferred sentencing alternatives in Iowa criminal cases allow an opportunity to avoid the formal entry of a judgment or sentence for the offense if you complete the requirements imposed by the court as conditions for the deferred judgment or sentence. If you complete the conditions the court file will be expunged and concealed from the public. For some purposes you may not be considered to have a conviction. However, Iowa law expressly provides that a deferred sentence for OWI is counted as a prior offense if you are arrested again for OWI. Federal courts generally consider a deferred sentence a prior conviction for federal sentencing purposes. A deferred sentence might even be used as a prior conviction for second offense or habitual offender purposes in a federal prosecution. Until the deferred sentence is actually completed and the record expunged, the court record is available to the public. For some purposes you might be considered "convicted" while the deferral is pending. If you receive a deferred sentence for a felony or other offense that prohibits possession of firearms and ammunition you may be in violation of state and federal laws that prevent a "convicted" person from possessing firearms and ammunition while the deferred sentence is still pending. Please do not assume that a deferred judgment or sentence means that no one will find out about the offense. Newspapers accounts, police department records, jail booking records and the criminal history record available to law enforcement agencies will show the arrest, the plea of guilty and that the record of the offense was "expunged". Law enforcement criminal history records are not "public" records but there are circumstances when a search of criminal history records can be conducted by other than law enforcement agencies. For example, if you apply to be a teacher, seek employment in the gambling industry, a daycare or if your employment requires you to enter a restricted area such as a power plant. Receiving a deferred judgment or deferred sentence is helpful. It is better than having a formal conviction on your record. In many cases it may be the best option available.
ConclusionReceiving a deferred judgment or deferred sentence is helpful. It is better than having a formal conviction on your record. In many cases it may be the best option available.