Deferred Adjudication in Texas

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

Deferred adjudication serves many purposes, but most importantly, it is a mechanism to eventually seal your record from the public’s eye. Section 42.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows a judge to place a person on deferred adjudication who pleads guilty or no contest to an offense. When a person is placed on deferred adjudication, there is no finding of guilt, no conviction, and no jail sentence. A person who pleads guilty and receives deferred adjudication is placed on probation, or what is commonly referred to as “community supervision.” With probation comes certain terms and conditions which must be completed within the specified period of supervision. These terms and conditions include: not committing new crimes, attending special rehabilitative classes, completing community service, paying restitution, paying court costs and fines, and paying the costs of probation itself. If a person violates a term or condition of probation, the court may decide to find the individual guilty and sentence the individual anywhere within the legal range of punishment. If probation is successfully completed, the case is dismissed.

Why is deferred adjudication a good thing? Obviously, a dismissal is always better than a conviction, and it certainly beats going to jail–but a dismissal doesn’t mean the case disappears from your record. The arrest, the existence of a court case, and a notation that the case was dismissed by deferred adjudication will still appear in the government databases and still be sold to criminal record companies who then sell subscriptions to potential employers. Today, employers are either savvy enough to understand that a dismissal by deferred is obtained through pleading guilty or they consider the mere existence of a criminal case to be a negative factor in the hiring decision.

The real value in deferred adjudication lies is in the triggering of nondisclosure eligibility. A nondisclosure is essentially the same thing as sealing a record and it prevents private entities from being able to view the existence of a case. While receiving deferred adjudication is only the first step in the process of achieving a nondisclosure, it is an absolutely essential step if the goal is to keep employers from viewing your criminal record.

A prosecutor has discretion to offer deferred adjudication in virtually any case. The short list of cases where the Texas Legislature has prohibited deferred adjudication consists of:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Flying while intoxicated
  • Boating while intoxicated
  • Intoxication assault
  • Intoxication manslaughter
  • Second or more drug-free school zone drug offense
  • Certain sexual offenses

If deferred adjudication is granted, probation will vary on the seriousness of the offense:

  • In a felony case, probation may last up to 10 years,
  • In a misdemeanor case (class A or B), probation may last up to 2 years,
  • In a Class C Misdemeanor case, probation may last up to 180 days and does not require reporting to a probation officer.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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