In an Iowa OWI case, deferred judgment is one option for pursuing a favorable outcome. With this program, the court will suspend the entry of a conviction while allowing you to fulfill certain probationary conditions. If you complete the terms, your case may be discharged, and you could avoid criminal penalties. However, failing to satisfy the requirements will result in a conviction, and the judge can impose legally allowed sanctions. The deferred judgment option is not available to all OWI defendants. You must meet criteria, like not having a prior OWI conviction or not having an alcohol concentration over .15 at the time of the offense, to qualify. The judge ultimately decides whether you can be put on this program.
Understanding What Deferred Judgment Is
If you are facing an OWI charge in Iowa, you might want to familiarize yourself with deferred judgment. With this program, a judge withholds the entry of judgment on the criminal charge, instead placing the defendant on probation with conditions.
Under a deferred judgment program, the defendant could avoid a conviction if they complete the probationary requirements. While this option is not available to everyone facing an OWI, it is worth discussing with your attorney if you think that you might be eligible. Still, the judge has the discretion to decide whether you are granted this form of relief.
Advantages of a Deferred Judgment
One significant advantage of a deferred judgment in an OWI case is that you will not have a conviction on your criminal record. However, this is not to say that no evidence of the offense will exist. The arrest will still appear.
Another advantage of deferred judgment is avoiding criminal penalties such as jail time and fines. That said, you might still have to pay a civil fee as part of the program.
Eligibility Requirements for Deferred Judgment
To be eligible for deferred judgment, you first plead guilty to (or be found guilty of) the OWI offense. The decision can be a challenging one to make. Thus, doing your research and speaking to an attorney is essential before moving forward.
If you opt for deferred judgment, the judge may require that you also pay a civil penalty. The amount will depend on the level of offense.
You may not be eligible for deferred judgment if you have been previously convicted of an OWI or your driver’s license has been revoked, and any of the following apply:
- Your alcohol concentration was .15 or more.
- You previously received a deferred judgment for OWI in Iowa or a similar offense in another state.
- You refused to participate in a chemical test.
- You caused an accident resulting in bodily injury.
- You eluded or attempted to elude a police officer.
What Happens After Deferred Judgment Is Granted?
After a deferred judgment is granted, the court will place you on probation for up to 1 year. During this period, you must comply with certain court-ordered conditions.
These terms can include the following:
- Attending substance abuse treatment
- Completing community service
- Refraining from consuming alcohol and/or drugs
- Refraining from committing any other violation
Fulfilling the conditions of your probation and paying civil fees assessed by the court will result in your case being discharged. In other words, the judge will not enter a conviction against you.
What Happens If You Do Not Comply with the Probationary Terms
If you do not meet the conditions of your probation, the judge can take more serious action against you. They can revoke your probation and impose any statutorily allowed sanctions for the OWI.
However, you will be scheduled for a hearing before the judge decides what to do. During the proceeding, you can argue your case as to why probation revocation is not warranted.
Discuss Your Case with an Attorney
Although you might have been charged with an OWI, several legal options may be available to help you seek a favorable outcome. A criminal defense lawyer can review your case and discuss avenues to explore.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our Iowa City team, please contact Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger at (319) 499-5524.