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Topek & Topek

If you have been arrested in Texas you may have heard the phrase deferred adjudication. A Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Brazoria County criminal defense attorney explains what it means.

    In Texas deferred adjudication is a type of probation.  It can be the result of negotiation between a defense attorney and a prosecutor or it can be given by the Judge when a defendant pleads to the court without an agreed recommendation. 

    The advantage of being placed on deferred adjudication over regular probation is that if a defendant successfully completes the terms they are not convicted of the offense.  A defendant enters a guilty or no-contest plea and the Judge makes a finding that there is enough evidence for a conviction but will then defer the finding of guilt.  Since the defendant is not convicted in most cases they will be eligible to have there criminal record sealed at some point in the future.  Additionally, there are some collateral affects of a conviction that are avoided with a deferred.

    This benefit should not be overstated though.  We have received many calls from individuals whose lawyers led them to believe that a deferred adjudication would not be held against them when looking for jobs.  In reality most employers and apartments who do background check will see that the individual had been arrested, went to court and was placed on deferred adjudication.  Often employers treat that the same way that they would treat a conviction.  The benefits of the deferred adjudication are most strongly experienced after one has obtained an order of non-disclosure that seals their record from most apartments, employers, and the general public.

    The other important aspect of deferred adjudication is what can happen if accused of violating their deferred adjudication.  If a motion to adjudicate is filed based on violations a person faces the possibility of being convicted of the offense and sentenced to any term within the range of punishment.  For example if an individual is on deferred adjudication for a class B possession of marijuana they can be sentenced to up to six months in jail or if they are on deferred adjudication for burglary of a habitation they face between two and ten years in prison.

    If you have been accused of a crime in Harris County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County and have questions about deferred adjudication please call us for a free consultation at 713-651-1444 or fill out an online contact form.