What Is a Deferred Judgment?

Deferred judgment refers to a sentencing option in a court case in which the defendant pleads no contest or guilty to criminal charges and the civil penalty is deferred in exchange for a plea deal, according to the Iowa State Code. The defendant completes the specified terms of a deferred judgment.

A deferred judgment is based on an agreement with the district attorney’s office for a specified period of time. Once the defendant completes the specifications of the plea bargain, in some cases, the district attorney’s office withdraws the guilty plea and dismisses the charge, according to Colorado-based attorney Richard B. Huttner. The criminal case is considered unresolved during the time period of the deferred judgment, which means that the plea has been entered but judgment has been deferred.

A defendant without any criminal history can benefit from a deferred judgment because the charges disappear once the plea requirements have been completed, according to Huttner. A deferred judgment is beneficial for defendants who want to avoid a conviction or felony on their records and preserve their criminal records.

With a deferred judgment, the court retains the power to modify or pronounce a judgment or sentence if the defendant doesn’t comply with the conditions set by the plea deal, according to the Iowa State Code.