In Nevada criminal cases, a deferral of judgment allows you to complete certain court-ordered terms in exchange for the judge not convicting you. Then once you finish these terms, the judge will dismiss the charge and seal your criminal record right away.
In short, a deferral of judgment is a way to avoid a conviction and incarceration as long as you successfully abide by your court-ordered terms. Deferrals of judgment are also called stayed adjudications.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. How a deferral of judgment works
- 2. Eligibility criteria
- 3. What happens if you violate court orders
- 4. How submittals are different
1. How a deferral of judgment works
In many criminal cases, Nevada judges have the discretion to grant you a deferral of judgment so you can:
- avoid a conviction on your record and
- complete court-ordered conditions instead of going to jail or prison.
A deferral of judgment requires you to plead guilty or no contest to a crime. However, the judge will not convict you (“defers judgment”); instead, the judge sets a date by which you must complete various terms, such as:
- Restitution payments
- Court cost payments
- Community service hours
- Other fines
- A specialty court program
If you complete everything successfully, the judge then dismisses your charge. This means your case is dropped, and you are not convicted.
Then the judge will order that your record be sealed. Though if you get into trouble with the law again, this case will count as a conviction for the purposes of setting bail or imposing penalties.1
2. Eligibility criteria
You may not receive a deferral of judgment in Nevada if you have been convicted of either:
- violent or sexual offenses under NRS 202.876;
- crimes against a child under NRS 179D.0357;
- Child abuse (NRS 200.508); or
- Animal cruelty (NRS 574.100).2
Otherwise, judges have discretion whether to grant you a deferral of judgment. Predictably, courts are more willing to defer judgment if you are charged with a non-violent offense and have an otherwise clean criminal history.
3. What happens if you violate court orders
If you do not complete the terms of your deferral of judgment, the court may:
- accept your original guilty or no contest plea,
- convict you of the criminal charge, and
- sentence you to jail or prison.
Therefore by taking the plea originally, you waived your right to a trial.
However, there is an exception if your charge was for a first- or second violation of drug possession (NRS 453.336): If the court takes you out of the drug program, you may withdraw your guilty or no contest plea. This allows you to fight the charge as if the deferral of judgment never happened and go to trial if you wish.3
4. How submittals are different
There are two key differences between deferrals of judgment and submittals in Nevada.
- Submittals are available only in misdemeanor cases, not felony cases; and
- Submittals do not require that you enter a guilty plea first, which means you can still go to trial if you violate the terms of your submittal.