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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23992
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Received a deferred sentence in Colorado DV charge.

Customer Question

Received a deferred sentence in Colorado for a DV charge. The DA offered a dismissal if I plead guilty and went to anger management classes. This was due to my ex-wife making an accusation 3-4 days after we had an argument. When the police called me on my cell phone to inform me of the accusation when I was at work, I said "don't I have to beat her up or something?" as I didn't understand what was going on. She had been caught abusing our kids a few weeks before this, which was probably the motivation for the whole thing. The police said I could just come to the police station and get a summons, which I did. It was just like a ticket. The DA said once I completed the classes, the case would be dismissed and I would have no record.
I wanted to see if this would prevent me from working for a police department as an officer. I did my own fingerprint FBI background check, and there is no record. I also went to the courthouse myself and requested the records. They said they didn't have any record of it and gave me a notarized letter stating the same thing. They said the police department wouldn't have a record of it either. What should I do?
If I can't get this information will the police be able to when they do my background check? Should I even bother to tell them about this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I should have mentioned that this all happened in 12/1998...when I finished the classes, the counselor sent a letter to the court in September 1999.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
The real difficulty here is the Federal government. A misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence costs you your Federal gun rights, which would make in impossible for you to become a police officer, since you would be unable to have anything to do with weapons.
If you pled guilty and/or admitted on the record to using or threatening force against a domestic partner, you lost your gun rights, which is a lifetime bar. Under such circumstances, the Federal government will consider a deferral a conviction for gun rights purposes.
Generally, a deferral will show on your RAP sheet as an arrest (a citation has the force and effect legally of an arrest) and a dismissal unless you got it sealed or expunged. Usually, even when records are completely destroyed for expungement purposes, one copy remains with the agency that keeps the records and which can be accessed under certain circumstances by law enforcement.
So to recap, you can honestly say you have no criminal convictions. If you disclose this offense or if they find it, you would be ineligible for police work.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Zoey for your response...My understanding is that if a defendant agrees to plead guilty to the charge he or she is charged with, the conviction and sentence are deferred. The defendant is required to complete a specified period of either supervised or unsupervised probation, and depending on the type of case, may have to complete court ordered requirements such as community service or alcohol classes. If the defendant completes these requirements and does not commit any new offenses during the period of the deferred judgment, the plea of guilty originally entered into is withdrawn, and the case gets dismissed at the end of the specified time period. Because the conviction and sentence are deferred, as long as the defendant completes his/her requirements, there will be no conviction. My case was dismissed, and my plea withdrawn. I was not arrested or fingerprinted, but issued a summons like a traffic ticket.I'm not a lawyer, but in a deferred judgment, my understanding was that the plea of guilty is withdrawn, therefore, you have not plead guilty to a crime, and therefore there is no conviction and the case is dismissed entirely.This would explain (in my mind) why the courts, the FBI, and the police don't have any record of it.I also decided to call the Colorado POST (Police Officer Standards and Testing) to discuss this with them, and they said it wouldn't prevent me from becoming a police officer, but that I should disclose this, as it may be decided by specific departments that I may not be the best candidate. Taking it further, I also called several police departments, and they said that a successfully completed deferred sentence doesn't count as a conviction, and wouldn't prevent me from applying to their department...so I guess I ultimately have my answer, but would prefer to KNOW it for a fact from legal counsel.Am I missing something? Are the local police and POST missing something here?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Your understanding of a deferral is correct, however, as I indicated, for certain purposes, a deferral does count as a conviction because it does involve an initial plea and admission on the record at the time you enter into the diversion agreement.
For example, the Federal government sees a deferral as a conviction for immigration purposes. It also sees a deferral as a conviction for purposes of Federal gun rights.
A conviction for a crime of domestic violence means you have no gun rights, which in turn means you're not going to be able to become a police officer.
Legally, you are not required to disclose a conviction when you know that all you have is a dismissal. But as I've said, if the police find it (some police forces polygraph their candidates to make sure that there's nothing in their past they haven't disclosed) and if they learn it's a domestic matter, you won't be qualified for the job.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just wanted to make this note for anyone else reading this thread. This is from a Colorado Criminal defense attorney who is very well-versed with this issue.
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Colorado law authorizes deferred sentences for persons who plead guilty to committing an act of domestic violence.
Participation in this “Diversion Program,” administered by the County District Attorney’s Office, requires a guilty
plea and constitutes a qualifying conviction for purposes of the Lautenberg Amendment. The qualifying conviction
exists only for the duration of the Program, and upon successful completion, the guilty plea is withdrawn and the charge is
dismissed. Once the charges are dismissed there is no longer a “qualifying conviction” for purposes of the Lautenberg
Amendment.Upon the defendant’s satisfactory completion of and discharge from supervision, the court shall dismiss with
prejudice all charges against the defendant. The effect of the dismissal is to restore the defendant to the status he
or she occupied before the arrest, citation, or summons.A successfully completed diversion agreement shall not be considered a conviction for any purpose. A person with an
order of dismissal entered pursuant to this article may not be subject to charge, prosecution, or liability under
Colorado law of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of his or her failure to recite or
acknowledge the arrest, citation, or summons in response to any inquiry made for any purpose.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the information. I stand by my answer, however. Regardless of Colorado law, there is yet Federal law to contend with, which may come into play when the job that you are seeking requires you to handle firearms.
I wish you the best of luck going forward.