If you’re facing criminal charges in Texas for the first time, you’ll be interested in hearing about deferred adjudication. What is it and how can it benefit defendants? In simple terms, deferred adjudication is a form of probation. Suppose a defendant is placed on probation for a certain length of time. If the defendant successfully completes all of the terms the probation, then the defendant’s case is “dismissed.”
When a defendant gets deferred adjudication, they do have to enter a guilty plea, but instead of the judge finding the defendant guilty, the judge “defers” the finding of guilt. “But doesn’t pleading guilty amount to a conviction?” Not under Texas law. If a background check is run against the person, the arrest and charge will turn up, but instead of showing a “conviction” per se, it will show deferred adjudication, which is not the same as a conviction – it’s less serious.
“What’s the difference between deferred adjudication and straight probation?” The main difference between is deferred adjudication is NOT a conviction. In contrast, straight probation IS a conviction. There are also key differences in regards to the consequences of violating deferred adjudication vs. violating straight probation. In a nutshell, the consequences of violating probation while on deferred adjudication can be severe.
Advantages of Deferred Adjudication
There are distinct advantages of deferred adjudication, including:
- It is not considered a conviction, so it looks better on a background check.
- Since it’s not technically a conviction, there are less consequences; for example, a conviction for a drug offense would lead to a license suspension, but pleading to a deferred would prevent that from occurring.
- After completing the deferred probation, the defendant can file a petition for non-disclosure, which seals the criminal record from private entities, such as landlords and employers in the public sector.