To err is human, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that you won’t have to pay for your mistakes. Fortunately, the law sometimes allows a little wiggle room when it comes to sentencing for serious crimes. If you’re given a deferred or suspended sentence in Oklahoma, you probably won’t spend any time in prison or jail if you play your cards right. These sentences are similar but definitely not the same — one is a lot better than the other.
A Suspended Sentence comes with a conviction
If you did what you’re accused of and you plead guilty or no contest rather than force the matter to trial, you’ll serve your sentence. But you won’t do it in prison if you receive a suspended sentence. You’re free to keep going about your life, subject to some limitations. Think probation. If you toe the line and keep out of trouble going forward, if you perform your community service and pay your fines and restitution, you’ll stay out of jail. You’re free to serve your sentence outside prison walls.
But make no mistake, you’ve been convicted. You’ll have a criminal record just as you would if you had served your time in jail.
A Deferred Sentence is the Better Outcome
A deferred sentence also begins with a plea of guilty or no contest, but technically, there’s no sentence because the judge postpones making a decision regarding it. He’s not going to send you to prison, at least at the present time. He’ll decide your sentence later, at some scheduled date in the future — maybe a year, maybe five years, maybe even 10. You’ll go back to court at that time and you can withdraw your plea. The case against you is dismissed. But just as with a suspended sentence, you must meet some conditions. These can include the following in Oklahoma:
At the end of the term, when you take back your guilty plea, the case against you is dismissed. You won’t have a criminal record and you can honestly say to potential employers that you don’t. Law enforcement maintains a record of the proceedings but they’re not public record. (This is called expungement and you can read even more about it here.)
Of course, if you make a mistake while you’re serving your deferred sentence the whole thing comes undone. You’ll be back in court well in advance of your deferred sentencing date and you’ll get sentenced, not just for the remaining probationary period but according to Oklahoma’s sentencing guidelines for your particular crime. It will be like the deferred months or years never happened.
You’ve Got a Lot on the Line
For all their similarities, there’s a world of difference between these two sentences. One effectively expunges your record and the other labels you a convicted criminal, even if you technically didn’t serve time in prison. This isn’t the sort of thing you want to try to negotiate or manage on your own. Call us today at (405) 703-4567 so we can discuss your options and help to get you the best result possible.