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Adjudication withheld?

Jacksonville, FL |

If an individual pleads "no contest" to a misdemeanor charge, completes a probationary period, and subsequently "adjudication [is] withheld", does this mean the individual was "convicted" of the crime? For purposes of answering employment questions, for example, would you have to say you were "convicted" of the misdemeanor? There seem to be different answers to this question and it is very confusing!

In the state of Florida yes. Employers view "adjudication witheld" as convicted. I was terminated from my job even though the record was sealed.

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Attorney answers 9


It is confusing. But for misdemeanors, its a bit easier. For employment purposes (and for most purposes) if you receive a withhold of adjudication, you are not "convicted" of the crime. The word "Adjudication" connotes conviction, not a "withhold". You can also avoid this issue altogether by getting your record sealed.


My position, and that of most attorneys that I practice with is that if "adjudication of guilt" is withheld, you have not been formally convicted of the crime. However, unless expunged, it will still show as an arrest and appear to be a conviction.


I don't know about Jacksonville, but here in California, yes, you have been convicted of a misdemeanor if you plead no contest to the charge and completed probation. The good news is, in most states they have what's called "expungement" done through a 17 (b) motion, which is a motion to expunge a criminal record. The bad news is, with crimes involving dishonesty, it still shows up on the record because crimes of moral turpitude are notorious for being inherently priorable and the expungement doesn't do much good. On another note, not being truthful on a job application is a crime if it under penalty of perjury, and just isn't good practice. You would be better off explaining the circumstances surrounding the misdemeanor to your prospective employer. Honesty is the best policy!


While you typically are not considered "convicted," it really depends on the misdemeanor charge for which you were sentenced and the specific facts of your situation . For example, even if adjudication is withheld, if the charge is driving while license suspended, this still constitutes a conviction for purposes of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and can result in a felony charge if you have two prior convictions, despite withholding of adjudication.

Also, in Federal immigration matters, a withhold of adjudication is still a conviction. You could be subject to removal despite the withhold.


An adjudication withheld means no formal conviction. I would say if asked by an employer if you have been convicted of a crime and you received a withhold the legally correct answer is NO! Remember this only applies if you have no other convictions.


if "adjudication of guilt" is withheld, you have not been formally convicted of the crime.


The answers above are all correct, but I would remind you, that the federal government does not recognize withholds. Withholds are convictions in its eyes. If you are filling out a federal application, and you answer no, you may be subject to charges of perjury. Any other application, you can say no conviction. Your records may only be in the clerk's system, but frequently these are transmitted to the NCIC and other centers where the information is held or listed but may not show up on a simple computer search. Expungement may be a good idea.


Except for certain crimes, you may seal the record. You must then wait 10 years before it can be expunged. You need to go to the FDLE website and read the rules on this. I did not say expungement would mean you don't have to tell the Feds you were convicted when asked. You still must tell them. What I said, or meant, was that sealing and expungement will get the record away from some prying eyes, but not all. Certain law enforcement agencies, DCF, schools, and some others can still access these records in some cases. You need to consult an attorney.


If adjudication is withheld then it is NOT a conviction and you do NOT have to say you were. It is confusing because most people think if you have been found guilty you are convicted. Not so in Florida. The trouble you will run into is trying to explain the difference.

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