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What is Deferred Adjudication?

Published: Oct 24, 2017 in Criminal Defense

When you are facing criminal charges in Texas, it is important to know that you have a variety of legal options. One option is to negotiate a plea bargain, agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for an acceptable punishment. This might include avoiding jail time in exchange for community supervision, also known as probation. A second option is to move forward with a trial and leave the final decision in the hands of the judge or jury. An alternative to both of these options is known as deferred adjudication. This is a type of arrangement made with the prosecutor that can help you avoid a conviction altogether.

To learn more about deferred adjudication and its potential benefits and disadvantages, contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett.

Call attorney Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 today for a free consultation.

Deferred Adjudication in Texas

During deferred adjudication, you agree to enter a guilty plea for the crime you’ve allegedly committed. Normally, the judge would enter this plea and then move forward with sentencing. Instead, the judge defers entering the guilty plea in exchange for your agreeing to abide by the terms of probation for a specific period of time. Your probation may include refraining from certain behaviors, and to complete certain requirements such as community service or alcohol abuse classes.

If you violate any aspect of your probation while on deferred adjudication, you may be required to return to court and the guilty plea will be entered against you. The judge can then sentence you to the fullest extent of the law for the original offense. It does not matter if you had completed any percentage of your probationary period, you could still face the maximum penalty for the crime.

When you successfully complete all of the requirements of the deferred adjudication period without violating any of the terms, you will not have a conviction of your record.

When is Deferred Adjudication Possible?

You will not always be offered deferred adjudication. In many cases, prosecutors offer this option to first-time offenders. If you have had a clean record and this appears to be a one-time mistake, then speak with your attorney about the chance of deferred adjudication eligibility. However, deferred adjudication could also be available for a subsequent offenses or more serious charges. The more serious the current charges, the less likely deferred adjudication will be available.

Your Record After Deferred Adjudication

While you will have avoided a conviction on your criminal record, deferred adjudication does not leave you with an entirely clean record. The matter does not disappear once you successfully complete the deferred adjudication program – it remains part of the public record. When someone conducts a background check, they will see you successfully completed a deferred adjudication.

However, you may have the opportunity to clear your record in the future. Following a successful deferred adjudication, you may be able to file a petition for expunction or non-disclosure, which would seal the record of the criminal matter. Non-disclosure if not available for many felonies, and when it is possible, you may need to wait five years before you can petition the court. Expunction is only available in certain instances where you were found not guilty or the charges were dismissed.

Because deferred adjudication can tarnish your record and may take years before you can have said records sealed, it is not always the best option. You should discuss the merits of this route and of attempting to prove your innocence at trial with an attorney.

Let A Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, the next best step to take is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of Ned Barnett understands how daunting facing criminal charges can be. Attorney Ned Barnett is here to review your situation, protect your rights, and explain your legal options.

Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about whether deferred adjudication may be right for you.