What is Deferred Adjudication in Texas?

Posted over 5 years ago. Applies to Texas, 106 helpful votes

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1

"Deferred Adjudication"

In short, Deferred Adjudication is a type of probation. A defendant is placed on a probation for a certain period of time. If the probation is successfully completed, the case is "dismissed." A defendant will enter a guilty plea, but the judge does not find the defendant guilty and instead "defers" the finding of guilt. Pleading guilty for Deferred Adjudication is not considered a conviction under Texas law. A criminal background check will show the arrest for the charge, will show the Deferred Adjudication, but it will not show a conviction.

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Difference between Deferred Adjudication and "Straight" Probation.

The major difference between Deferred Adjudication probation and regular, or "straight" probation, is that the deferred is not considered a conviction and the straight probation is a conviction. There is also one key difference and that is the consequences of violating the probation. A violation of a Deferred Adjudication type of probation opens up the defendant to the entire range of punishment. For example, if a defendant takes a plea for 10 years of deferred on a 3rd degree felony, the punishment range for that crime is 2-10 years in prison. If a defendant is violated while on deferred, the judge can sentence them up to 10 years in prison. With a "straight" probation, the sentence is pretty much already set. Using the same felony example, a defendant might plea to a 2 year sentence, probated for 10 years. So the defendant would be looking at a potential 2 year sentence upon violation.

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Advantages of Deferred Adjudication

There are a few advantages a Deferred Adjudication type of probation can provide. Since it is not considered a conviction, it can prevent some consequences that normally come with a conviction. For example, drug convictions in Texas come with a suspension of the defendant's drivers license. Pleading to a deferred will keep that from happening. Another major advantage is the fact that a defendant can file what is called a petition for non-disclosure after successful completion of a deferred probation. This essentially seals the criminal record of the offense from private entities. This keeps potential employers, apartment complexes, and many others, from knowing about the offense.

Additional Resources

Texas Bar Content - Deferred Adjudication

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