Deferred Judgments in Iowa: A Potentially Favorable Alternative
A deferred judgment is sometimes an excellent option in cases where the State has a strong case and the defendant has concerns about the lasting impact of a conviction on their criminal record.
In essence, a deferred judgment in Iowa is a legal process where a defendant pleads guilty to a crime, but the judge “defers” imposition of any sentence. If the defendant successfully completes a probationary period (i.e. they pay their fines and court costs, do all recommended treatment, have no new offenses, etc.), then they will avoid a permanent conviction on their record. Thanks to a relatively recent bill passed in 2012, their record will also be expunged. This can be especially important to college students applying for grad/professional school or for jobs after graduation.
Deferred judgments are not available in every case, as a defendant can only receive two deferred judgments in their lifetime. Moreover, Iowa Code 907.3(1) also lists numerous additional prohibitions on defendants receiving deferred judgments. For instance, deferred judgments are not available if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony in Iowa or any other state, if the defendant committed an assault on a police officer, or if the defendant is charged with domestic assault and has previously been granted a deferred judgment or sentence for domestic assault.
In Iowa OWI cases, deferred judgments are not available if the blood alcohol concentration was above .150, if the defendant has a previous conviction or deferred judgment for OWI, if the defendant refuses to consent to a test required by the Iowa implied consent statute , or if a bodily injury occurred to someone other than the defendant.
The decision about whether to pursue a deferred judgment is one that should be made with the consultation of an attorney.