For immigrants who have been charged with a first time offense or a minor crime that did not result in injury, a guilty verdict does not have to be the inevitable result. Like many states, Colorado allows for certain crimes to receive a deferred judgment and sentence. This gives immigrants or anyone charged with a crime a chance to avoid having a criminal conviction on their record.
According to Colorado law, deferred sentencing works by having a person plead guilty to a criminal charge, but the judge does not hand down a sentence. Instead, the court will impose conditions on the person similar to what people receive in probation. If the person meets these conditions, the previous plea of guilty is withdrawn and the criminal charges are dismissed. Violating these conditions, however, may result in the imposition of a guilty verdict and sentencing.
State law also imposes time limits for how long a person may take to fulfill the conditions of a deferred sentence. If the crime is a felony, the time period cannot last more than four years. If the crime is a misdemeanor, the period is limited to two years. Sometimes a court can extend the time if a person only has to fulfill a restitution payment. While conditions may have prompted a delay in payment, the person should show that future payment is possible.
Even if the probation is completed and the criminal charge is withdrawn, the actual court record of the criminal charges and deferred judgment is still publicly available. This can cause trouble if an employer or agency pulls up your court record and discovers that you were criminally charged even if you were never actually found guilty. To lessen the risk of this occurring, a defense attorney may discuss with you the option of getting your record sealed from public view.
This article is written to provide general information on the topic of criminal defense. Do not read this information as any actionable legal advice for your situation.