What is Deferred Adjudication and How Does it Work?
Were you arrested and charged with a crime in Dallas? It’s crucial that you speak with an experienced defense attorney to discuss your rights and options as soon as possible after your arrest. In certain circumstances, you might be eligible for deferred adjudication, which is often an appealing outcome that could help you keep the charge from appearing on your criminal record.
Deferred adjudication is a type of judge-ordered community supervision (more commonly known as probation) that allows a person to accept responsibility for a crime without a conviction being placed on their record. A judge is the only person who can grant deferred adjudication, and a prosecutor and alleged offender will have to agree to waive a jury trial.
With deferred adjudication, you will be asked to enter a guilty plea, but that finding of guilt is deferred pending your completion of the term of probation. In some cases, people may be allowed to enter “no contest” pleas.
Also known as “nolo contendere,” pleading no contest means that you do not wish to contest the criminal charges you are facing, and you may be able to avoid having the plea used against you in a subsequent legal matter. While deferred adjudication can help avoid a conviction appearing on your criminal record, the record of the underlying arrest will usually remain.
Deferred adjudication is more commonly offered to first-time offenders, but others could also be eligible in some cases. If you’ve been granted deferred adjudication, you must be very careful not to violate the terms of their probation as violations can trigger severe penalties.
Do you need help possibly obtaining deferred adjudication for an alleged criminal offense in the Dallas area? Contact the Law Offices of RJ Harber to discuss whether or not this could be an option for you. Your attorney will evaluate the circumstances of your current case, any prior criminal history, and will advise you on whether the prosecution might be willing to offer it to you.
We can explore all of your legal options as soon as you call (214) 389-1189 and schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.
Eligibility for Deferred Adjudication
Any person charged with a misdemeanor offense other than driving while intoxicated (DWI), boating while intoxicated (BWI) or flying while intoxicated is eligible for deferred adjudication. Felony cases are also eligible except for those involving driving while intoxicated (DWI), boating while intoxicated (BWI), flying while intoxicated, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, any repeat drug offense enhanced with a drug-free zone finding, and any repeat sex offense.
When a person is placed on deferred adjudication community supervision and receives a discharge and dismissal, they can petition the court for an order of nondisclosure to seal or expunge their criminal record. The petition can only be filed on or after the second anniversary of the discharge and dismissal when the offense was a misdemeanor.
A petition can only be filed on the fifth anniversary of the discharge and dismissal if the offense was a felony. For all other misdemeanors, a petition can only be filed on or after the date of the discharge and dismissal.
A person is not entitled to petition the court if they were placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for or have been previously convicted or placed on any other deferred adjudication for any offense requiring registration as a sex offender, aggravated kidnapping, murder, capital murder, injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, abandoning or endangering a child, a violation of a court order or conditions of bond in a family violence case, or any other offense involving family violence.
Deferred adjudication is a type of probation, but it is not the same as what is commonly referred to as straight probation. With straight probation, a person may have a prison sentence probated but their sentence is typically still the result of them having been convicted.
Requirements of Deferred Adjudication
Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 42A.103, a period of deferred adjudication community supervision cannot exceed 10 years in a felony case and cannot exceed two years in a misdemeanor case. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 42A.104 establishes that a judge can impose a fine and also impose confinement and mental health treatment as a requirement of deferred adjudication.
Conditions of deferred adjudication can vary depending on the case, but some of the most common requirements generally include:
- Commit no offense against the laws of the Texas or the United States
- Avoid injurious or vicious habits
- Abstain from use of alcohol or controlled substances
- Submit to random urinalysis
- Avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character
- Do not associate with individuals with criminal records
- Report to probation officer as directed
- Permit the probation officer to visit your home and workplace
- Obtain and maintain employment
- Do not change residence without court approval
- Remain within the county unless granted permission to leave by the probation officer
- Support your dependents
- Pay all court fines and related fees
- Provide income verification
- Perform specified number of hours of community service
Any alleged violation of your deferred adjudication needs to be taken very seriously because the judge could be allowed to adjudicate the guilty pleas you entered. This could possibly lead to your being susceptible to whatever the possible penalties were for your underlying criminal offense, including possible fines and prison time.
Keep in mind that successfully completing deferred adjudication will not necessarily spare you from all of the consequences associated with a criminal charge. You may still have to deal with penalties relating to firearm ownership, your driving privileges, and potential challenges finding employment.
An order of nondisclosure in Texas is a court order prohibiting public entities from disclosing criminal records. Orders of nondisclosure are also known as sealing criminal records, and some people could be eligible to have their record expunged, in which criminal records are actually destroyed.
Contact a Deferred Adjudication Attorney in Dallas Today
If you think that you might be eligible for deferred adjudication for a criminal charge in Dallas, be sure to contact the attorneys of the Law Offices of RJ Harber to discuss your case. Our attorneys have helped scores of clients qualify for deferred adjudication and successfully avoid convictions, and we’d like to help you do the same, if possible. Call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.