For some defendants in criminal cases, a deferred sentence is a way not only to avoid jail, but also to avoid a criminal conviction altogether. In a deferred sentence, a defendant pleads guilty to the particular crime with which he or she is charged, but instead of finding the defendant guilty, the judge delays rendering judgment and sentencing the defendant to jail or prison until the defendant has a chance to complete a term of probation.
At the end of the probationary term, the judge will render judgment of guilty or not guilty, based upon the defendant's compliance or non-compliance with the rules of probation.
The Possibility of Having Your Record Expunged
If the defendant has successfully adhered to all terms and conditions of probation, then the court records will be updated to indicate a plea of "not guilty," and the judge will dismiss the case. Thus, the defendant will NOT have a criminal conviction on his or her record for the particular offense, and he or she becomes eligible clear their court records according to Title 22 Section 991c of the Oklahoma Statutes, which describes the requirements for expunging or clearing a criminal record.
If, on the other hand, the defendant has somehow violated the conditions of probation, the judge will likely accept the defendant's plea, rendering a judgment of "guilty." He or she will then sentence the defendant, who has now been convicted of the crime, in accordance with the penalties stipulated by law. The defendant faces the possibility of being sentenced to the maximum jail or prison term allowable by law.
A Motion to Accelerate
However, if a defendant violates his or her probation while serving a deferred sentence, it is unlikely that the rest of the deferred sentence will be served before judgement is rendered. For example, if a person is given a three-year deferred sentence for larceny, and he or she commits another crime after six months, he or she will not likely be allowed to complete the remaining two-and-a-half years of probation outside of jail. In this case, the prosecution would generally file a Motion to Accelerate.
A Motion to Accelerate asks the judge to "speed up" sentencing. In essence, the prosecution is telling the judge that it is unnecessary to further delay judgment and sentencing because the defendant has already botched his or her probation. This can occur through any violation of the conditions of probation--not just the commission of a separate criminal offense. For example, if a person serving a deferred sentence for DUI fails to complete court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment, the prosecutor may file an application to accelerate a deferred sentence.
The Process is NOT Automatic
Violating probation does not result in the automatic acceleration of a deferred sentence. Depending on the circumstances of your probation violation, you may be able to stay out of jail by coming into compliance with your probationary terms: completing drug counseling, paying restitution, or other such stipulations.