If You Had a Deferred Judgment, You Can Put Your Criminal Case In Your Past – And Keep It There.
If you are wondering if you can seal a deferred judgment and move on from the ordeal, uninhibited by the stigmas that often come with a criminal record, you are in the right place. The good news is that by following the judge’s orders and abiding by the terms of the agreement you entered into with El Paso County prosecutors, (and your charges do not involve unlawful sexual conduct)you can seal a deferred judgment in Colorado so that most of the world will never know about it.
By petitioning El Paso or Teller County courts to seal your deferred judgment after doing all that you were expected to do, you can move forward with your life.
What Is a Deferred Judgment?
In Colorado, a deferred judgment is an option that is often available in cases involving non-violent defendants or those with no prior criminal record. In cases where a deferred judgment is available or appropriate, El Paso County prosecutors and your criminal defense attorney will negotiate an agreement whereby the defendant enters, in essence, a “temporary” guilty plea.
In exchange for that temporary plea, the prosecutor agrees to defer the entry of a judgment in the case and gives the defendant a chance to have the case dismissed entirely. That chance arises upon the defendant satisfying conditions agreed to by the prosecutor and the court. These often include community service hours, payment of restitution to any victims, counseling, and the payment of fines and court costs. The time within which a defendant must complete the conditions set for their deferred judgment cannot exceed four years for a felony or two years for a misdemeanor, petty offense, or traffic offense.
Upon full completion of the terms of the deferred judgment agreement, the defendant can withdraw their guilty plea and prosecutors will dismiss the criminal case. At that point, the defendant can seize the opportunity to petition the court to seal a deferred judgment.
Conversely, if a court finds that a defendant breached the deferred judgment agreement or failed to satisfy the conditions under which judgment was deferred, the court can convict the defendant based on their prior guilty plea, which is no longer conditional. Not only does this mean that the defendant faces all of the potential consequences that come with the crime, which could include jail time, they may also have a much more difficult time having the record of their case sealed.
What Does It Mean to Seal a Deferred Judgment?
Many people use the term “expungement” interchangeably with “sealing” when discussing the process of having cases cleared from a criminal record. In El Paso and Teller Counties, however, there is a difference between the two.
Expungement means the actual destruction of a record such that it is like it never existed. On the other hand, the sealing of a deferred judgment does not involve the destruction of an arrest or conviction record. Rather, it means that the general public won’t see that information. While the record still exists, you can move forward as if the underlying offense or conviction never happened.
Once sealed, the case records involving a completed deferred judgment agreement and a dismissal of the charges no longer appear on publicly available records, such as those used by employers and landlords when doing background checks.
What Is The Process For Sealing a Deferred Judgment In Colorado?
As noted, the dismissal of a criminal case involving a deferred judgment does not automatically remove the case from a defendant’s criminal record in Colorado. The defendant must ask the court to seal their record.
The good news is that, unlike cases involving convictions, there is no waiting period for asking El Paso County courts to seal a deferred judgment. A defendant can file a petition to have their case sealed immediately after the dismissal of their case.
The process to seal a deferred judgment involves gathering the necessary documentation, preparing the petition, and filing the petition with the appropriate court. This may seem overwhelming if you are attempting to navigate the waters of the criminal justice system alone. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney can lessen your stress and frustration. After all, they file this paperwork regularly. You do not, and you probably hope to never be in a position to file this paperwork again.
If the judge grants the petition to seal, the person must then mail copies of the order to all of the various agencies that have their criminal records on file, such as the police department that arrested them. Once those agencies receive the order, they should seal the records in approximately 30 days.
Looking to Seal a Deferred Judgment? Contact Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney Bryson Perkins Today.
Sealing a deferred judgment can help put your criminal case in the past - and keep it there. If you have questions or need assistance regarding sealing a criminal record, please contact Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys at Perkins Law today for your free initial consultation.