What does Adjudication Withheld mean?
The Withholding of Adjudication is a sort of legal fiction that allows a court in a criminal case to find a Defendant to have committed the offense, but the court is not making a formal conviction.
Brief ExplanationIn Florida, and a few other states, the courts permit a disposition of Adjudication Withheld. The Withholding of Adjudication is a sort of legal fiction that allows a court in a criminal case to find a Defendant to have committed the offense, but the court is not making a formal conviction. This does not seem to make much sense logically. How can you be found to have committed a crime, but you are not convicted of the crime? Prosecutors and Judges generally reserve Adjudication Withheld (or Withhold, for short) for first time offenders or for less egregious crimes. If the disposition reads Adjudcated Guilty, Adjudicated, or Convicted, then the Defendant has been formally convicted.
The LawFlorida Statute 775.08435 outlines the rules for when the court may Withhold Adjudication. Generally, a court may withhold if the offense is a:
-Misdemeanor, regardless of how many prior Withholds
-3rd degree Felony, if a first or second offense
-2nd degree Felony, if no prior offenses
-A court may never Withhold Adjudication on a 1st degree Felony.
Final ThoughtsThe fact that Florida's Criminal Justice System allows for the Withholding of Adjudication is a great benefit to a Defendant. A disposition of Adjudication Withheld may often be sealed from public record. If you receive Adjudication Withheld on an offense, you will still have a criminal record, but you will not be considered convicted. This can have enormous implications for keeping your right to vote, right to bear arms, or your job. Adjudication Withheld does not mean that the case was dropped or dismissed; and it is often considered a conviction in Federal Court. Every person accused of a crime has unique circumstances. The information above should not be considered legal advice. You should consult an attorney about your case and your rights before entering into any plea agreement or agreeing to simply pay "court costs." These are decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life.