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What is a Deferred Judgement Sentence in Colorado?

Posted on March 29, 2024

In the criminal justice system, various sentencing options are available to judges when determining the appropriate consequences for individuals convicted of offenses. One such option in Colorado is the deferred judgment sentence. Contact an experienced  Breckenridge criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the legal proceedings.

A deferred judgment sentence is a legal arrangement in which a defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to a criminal charge, but the judgment of guilt is deferred by the court. Instead of immediately imposing a sentence, the judge postpones the final judgment for six months to four years while the defendant completes certain conditions specified by the court. These conditions typically include probation, community service, restitution, counseling, or other rehabilitative measures.

How Does Deferred Judgment Work?

When a defendant is granted a deferred judgment, they are essentially given an opportunity to avoid a formal conviction on their record if they successfully fulfill the conditions set by the court. During the deferral period, which can last anywhere from several months to several years, the defendant must comply with all requirements imposed by the court. This may include attending counseling sessions, maintaining employment, refraining from criminal behavior, or paying fines and restitution.

If the defendant successfully completes the terms of the deferred judgment, the court may dismiss the charges against them, and no formal conviction will be entered on their record. However, if the defendant fails to comply with the conditions of the deferred judgment, the court may revoke the deferral and impose a sentence as if the guilty plea had been entered initially. This could result in a formal conviction, along with the corresponding penalties.

Implications and Benefits of a Deferred Sentence

Deferred judgment sentences offer several potential benefits for defendants:

Second Chance

A deferred judgment allows defendants to avoid a formal conviction on their record, allowing them to move forward with their lives without the stigma associated with a criminal conviction.


By requiring defendants to complete rehabilitative measures such as counseling or community service, deferred judgment sentences aim to address underlying issues that may have contributed to the defendant’s criminal behavior, potentially reducing the likelihood of reoffending in the future.

Employment and Housing Opportunities

Avoiding a formal conviction can make it easier for individuals to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities that may be limited by a criminal record.

Reduction in Penalties

If successfully completed, a deferred judgment may result in lighter penalties compared to those imposed in a traditional sentencing scenario.

Who Can Get a Deferred Judgment Sentence in Colorado?

Eligibility for a deferred sentence in Colorado typically depends on the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and the discretion of the court. Generally, individuals charged with certain misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses may be eligible for a deferred sentence if they meet specific criteria. However, a deferred sentence is typically arranged through negotiations between the district attorney and your attorney. If you decide to accept the offer, approval from the judge presiding over the case is still required.

Speak to a Lawyer Today

Contacting our experienced Colorado criminal defense attorneys at (970) 401-7980 can significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining a deferred sentence and help you navigate the legal complexities involved.