What Is A Deferred Entry Of Sentence Or Deferred Entry Of Judgement?

Many courts and counties have come to the realization that first time misdemeanor offenders without prior criminal contact of any sort should be treated differently from the traditional approach of seeking a criminal conviction. For example, if a person in a moment of weakness or bad judgement walks out of a store without paying for his purchases he can be charged with petty theft. He is booked and cited to appear in court. If convicted this is a crime of moral turpitude and can prevent employment and licensing for life. This minimal mistake can affect a person’s entire future and on a mass basis creates a class of unemployable people. This policy in the long run does not prevent criminality but in many ways can increase it by making a single mistake a lifetime of punishment.

In recent years the courts and prosecutors have realized that this policy can be replaced by a different approach that will relieve the pressure on our jail systems and be more socially responsible. Some jurisdictions now have in place for first time offenders for crimes like petty theft, minor drug charges and other public offenses like disturbing the peace and public intoxication a program entitled deferred entry of sentence or judgement.

When you make your first court appearance your attorney will approach the prosecutor for an offer of disposition. He can propose a deferred entry of sentence or judgement. What this means is that on your first appearance you enter a plea of guilty. Sentence or judgement is postponed for a year in which time you will be given a choice of either a class, group meetings, counseling programs or community service. Once these conditions are completed and proof is presented to the court your case will be dismissed. You will have no conviction record and your employment or job search will not be affected by a conviction. The guilty plea never reaches the department of justice because you have not been sentenced. Until you are actually sentenced there is no criminal record of a plea of guilty.