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What does withheld justification mean in a criminal case

Orlando, FL |
Attorney answers 2


I am going to assume that your question is asking what a "withhold of adjudication" means. When an individual is charged with a crime and resolves their case, they can either be: 1) CONVICTED or adjudicated guilty of the offense, or 2) they can have the judge issue a "withhold of adjudication" and place them on probation. Typically, a "withhold" is only offered to first time offenders or those with a relatively minor criminal history. Certain crimes such as DUI and Fleeing and Eluding require and adjudication and the judge cannot withhold on those. The benefit of a withhold is that the person is not formally "convicted" of the charge. For instance, if it is a felony offense (like Grand Theft Motor Vehicle and you receive a "withhold," you would be able to answer "no" if you were asked if you have ever been convicted of a felony.


All that a withhold of adjudication allows you to claim is that you have never been adjudicated guilty of crime.

The primary benefit is that under Florida law you maintain your civil rights (right to vote, etc) and are not subject to certain collateral consequences (such as a license suspension in drug cases) if adjudicated guilty. To say that a withhold of adjudication means you were not convicted is a misnomer.

Under federal law a withhold of adjudication is considered a conviction, both for immigration and criminal purposes.

Under Florida law, a withhold is not considered a "conviction" under certain drug statutes that provide for rehabilitation in lieu of punishment. However, a withhold is considered a conviction for almost all enhancement statutes intended to increase your punishment if you should re-offend.

Finally, and contrary to popular opinion, a withhold of adjudication appears in in a criminal background check. Meaning if a check is done, it will show you were arrested, that you plead to the offense, but that the court withheld formal adjudication of guilt.

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