What is deferred adjudication, and who qualifies for it? In this article, the expert attorneys at the Law Offices of Seth Kretzer will discuss everything you need to know about deferred adjudication and probation.
What Is Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication relates to criminal cases and specifically to the sentencing phase for crimes. With deferred adjudication, there is no conviction, and the court defers or postpones the adjudication of the criminal case pending the completion of community supervision and satisfaction of additional conditions. This all occurs pre-conviction, meaning that the defendant may have an opportunity later to file for an expungement or nondisclosure of the entire matter and keep it off the defendant’s record.
Probation vs. Deferred Adjudication
Deferred adjudication, along with probation, are potential options for defendants that offer them a chance to avoid going to jail or prison after they commit a crime. Both options substitute jail time with what is known as community supervision.
With probation, a defendant enters a plea of guilty or is convicted, and the court then determines the severity of the crime and assesses punishment, which punishment may include fines, jail time, and other conditions. However, in the interest of justice, the court may allow the defendant to suspend or “probate” serving their sentence in exchange for remaining under community supervision. The same rationale applies to deferred adjudication. The main difference with deferred adjudication is not what happens but when it happens — before any guilty plea or verdict is ever handed down.
If the defendant accepts probation or adjudication deferred in their case, violation of their supervision conditions may have different effects. Typically, when one receives probation, they are sentenced to a jail sentence to be probated for the duration of the probation. If probation is violated, that person may have to serve the jail sentence that the court originally ordered. If one violates their community supervision during deferred adjudication, the entire prosecution of the original case restarts and the court may be less forgiving the second time around.
Requirements for Deferred Adjudication
For deferred adjudication or probation in Texas, the defendant is allowed by the judge to stay in the community under the supervision of the court, which can be up to two years for a misdemeanor in Texas and up to 10 years for a felony.
Judges will generally impose certain requirements related to community supervision, including regular drug testing, maintaining gainful steady employment, and performing community service. However, the most important requirement is that the defendant refrain from committing another offense during the period of community supervision. For those defendants on probation, this can be a one-way ticket straight to jail; for defendants with deferred adjudication, it could swiftly restart criminal proceedings with the near-certainty of far less leniency from the court than when the deferred adjudication was first offered.
One of the main benefits of deferred adjudication is the ability, with most crimes, to seek removal of the matter from the defendant’s criminal record. This is harder with probation because a defendant has already been convicted and sentenced to jail time, even though it was probated through community supervision. This means that completing probation is the equivalent of completing the jail sentence, and the conviction is still on the defendant’s record.
However, deferred adjudication means no conviction was ever entered, allowing the defendant to later hide or completely remove charges from their criminal record with the help of a skilled attorney experienced in filing for such removals.
Seeking Legal Help? Contact a Skilled Attorney Today
At the Law Offices of Seth Kretzer, our federal appeals attorneys are highly skilled and experienced with deferred adjudications and will work tirelessly to develop the best defense for you possible. Contact our firm today.