How to Avoid a Criminal Conviction With Deferred Adjudication

When a criminal offense is a relatively minor one, a judge will sometimes impose deferred adjudication. This can essentially give a defendant a second chance by “deferring” a judgment of guilt. Deferred adjudication is not considered to be a conviction in the state of Texas.

What is Deferred Adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is a type of sentence in which an individual pleads no contest or guilty. In exchange for this plea, the judge will lay out a certain set of conditions that the individual is expected to follow. If that person successfully completes all the requirements of this agreement, he or she will not be convicted. In some cases, the charges could be dismissed altogether. A few of the conditions that could be part of deferred adjudication include:

  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Paying monetary fines
  • Completing treatment for alcohol or drug abuse
  • Satisfactory school attendance (for juvenile defendants)

Violating Deferred Adjudication

Upon granting deferred adjudication, a judge will usually set a court date for the future in order to assess the progress of the defendant. Should that individual fail to comply with the terms, the deferred adjudication order can then be revoked. The defendant would then be subject to sentencing for the original offense. He or she could also face additional criminal charges if the violation included another criminal act.

What Crimes Qualify for Deferred Adjudication?

Generally speaking, deferred adjudication is only given for misdemeanor offenses or for minor drug charges. Crimes that are violent in nature do not qualify for this sentence under Texas law. A few of the common crimes for which deferred adjudication may be given include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Vandalism
  • Petty theft
  • Marijuana possession

Long-Lasting Effects

Although it is technically not a conviction, information about a deferred adjudication can nonetheless be part of the public record for some time to come. Potential employers or landlords will be able to see the date of the arrest and the disposition of the case when performing a background check. In order to have this information sealed, an order of non-disclosure will have to be issued, which often involves a separate petition to the court. Additionally, some offenses may not be eligible for non-disclosure. A defendant is encouraged to ask about the possibility of non-disclosure at the time his or her sentence is handed down.

If you would like to learn more about deferred adjudication or any other procedure of the Texas legal system, call 713-868-6100 and schedule a meeting with The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp.