Everything You Need to Know About “Deferred Adjudication” in Texas

what is deferred adjudicationDeferred adjudication is an important topic for all Texans who are facing criminal charges. It is important to understand that “probation” is termed “community supervision” in the State of Texas.

The criminal defense attorneys of J.D. Silva & Associates can help you understand the legal ramifications of deferred adjudication. The more information you have regarding these elements of Texas criminal law, the better prepared you will be if you are considering a plea agreement presented to you by a prosecutor.

The Basics of Community Supervision

Person picking up trash for community service. What is deferred adjudication?Community supervision is divided into two forms: (a) deferred adjudication and (b) probation. Criminal defendants who participate in community supervision do not serve their sentences in jail or prison.

Participants must meet specific requirements imposed by a judge. Many criminal defendants serving community supervision must undergo consistent drug testing and complete community service hours. However, the most important aspect of community supervision is that criminal defendants cannot commit another criminal offense while serving a community supervision sentence.

Understanding Deferred Adjudication in Texas

Deferred adjudication is one of the most common sentences offered to those who are convicted of misdemeanors for the first time. Once a defendant completes deferred adjudication, for most crimes, they can seek to seal their conviction from the public by completing a non-disclosure agreement.

Juries do not grant a criminal defendant deferred adjudication. A criminal defendant who does not want to enter a plea cannot take advantage of the benefits of deferred adjudication. It is a criminal defendant’s choice whether to accept or decline a plea agreement. Criminal defense attorneys will advise their clients regarding the pros and cons of accepting or declining a plea agreement.

A defendant who participates in deferred adjudication must satisfy all the requirements set forth by the judge. The district attorney may ask the judge to adjudicate the defendant if they have not fulfilled the terms of their community supervision.

Once a judge adjudicates the individual defendant, then the judge may apply any sentence within the statutory guidelines.

The Differences Between Deferred Adjudication and Community Supervision

Many unique differences distinguish deferred adjudication from community supervision. The following are some of the most common differences between them:

  • If a defendant pleads guilty and a judge places them on probation, the judge will sentence them to a term of incarceration but defer it for a set duration of probation. If the defendant violates the terms of the probation, the maximum jail sentence has already been set by the judge and will immediately commence.
  • If you plead guilty and your sentence is probation, you are still guilty of a crime and have that on your criminal record.
  • If a defendant pleads guilty and a judge places them on deferred adjudication, the judge will sentence them to a term of community supervision for a set duration. If the defendant violates the terms of the community supervision, the judge can sentence them to any penalty allowable within the punishment range.
  • If you plead guilty and your sentence is deferred adjudication, you are not guilty of a crime and do not have that on your criminal record (in most cases).

Filing a Petition for Non-Disclosure

what is deferred adjudication criminal convictionOnce a criminal defendant completes a period of deferred adjudication, the sentence will remain on the defendant’s record after the period of supervision concludes. All criminal defendants who want to remove the conviction from their criminal record will need to submit a petition for non-disclosure.

It is possible that some deferred sentences will not be sealed via non-disclosure. Sexual offenses in Texas, for example, may not be sealed by filing a petition for non-disclosure. Criminal defendants who face the following charges may not have their record sealed if they are offered deferred adjudication:

  • Organized crime offenses
  • Weapons offenses
  • Public indecency offenses
  • Family violence
  • Sexual offenses
  • Kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and smuggling of persons

Speaking to a criminal defense attorney is essential if you want to understand the time periods for filing a petition for non-disclosure. Depending on the subject offense, the time period for waiting to submit a petition for non-disclosure may vary.

The Benefits of Deferred Adjudication

The benefits associated with deferred adjudication make it more attractive to criminal defendants than probation. However, criminal defendants need to understand that specific offenses are not eligible for orders of non-disclosure. Some criminal defendants may believe they can have their convictions sealed after completing a period of deferred adjudication. Still, they discover that the nature of their offense prohibits them from pursuing this option.

Deferred adjudication periods also end if the criminal defendant commits another offense while on community supervision. These individuals need to be prepared to stay away from the people, places, and things that led them to be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

A criminal defense lawyer can help their clients understand that a prison term may be imposed on an individual who violates the terms of their deferred adjudication.

The Most Common Conditions Imposed by Judges as Part of Community Supervision

It is necessary to understand the terms of your community supervision if you choose to enter into a plea agreement. The following are some of the most common terms imposed by judges in cases involving deferred adjudication:

  • Paying in full all fines and fees imposed by the Court
  • Participating in mental health counseling
  • Completing a rehabilitation program
  • Submitting to urinalysis tests
  • Refraining from using drugs and alcohol
  • Seeking employment
  • Fulfilling the requirements of community service
  • Meeting with a probation officer on a consistent basis
  • Staying away from victims and protected persons
  • Not being arrested and charged with other criminal offenses

Not every criminal defendant is eligible for deferred adjudication in Texas. First-time offenders are offered deferred adjudication more often than other criminal defendants. If you have questions about the status of your deferred adjudication and any applicable conditions, then you should seek out legal advice from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

The Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

Deferred adjudication can possibly provide some criminal defendants with the opportunity to avoid some of the most serious consequences associated with a criminal conviction. The following are some of the most severe problems that arise for individuals who have a criminal conviction on their permanent record:

  • Changes in immigration status
  • Inability to participate in public benefits and subsidized federal programs
  • Difficulties gaining admission to college and graduate school
  • Limitations related to renting or purchasing a home
  • Losing parental rights
  • Professional license suspension

Deferred adjudication will offer many benefits to criminal defendants. However, the deferred adjudication status will be present on the criminal defendant’s record unless a petition for non-disclosure is submitted. Therefore, it is critical that you speak to a criminal defense attorney if you want to know how to remove it from your criminal record.

Reach Out for Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney in Texas

You may have additional questions about the differences between deferred adjudication and probation in Texas. It is necessary for you to ascertain the rights you have as an individual charged with a criminal offense. Until you are convicted or enter a plea, you are presumed innocent, and the state must establish that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the legal options available to you if you are charged with a criminal offense. You may have questions about criminal procedure and substantive criminal law in Texas. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of retaining legal counsel after you have been arrested and charged with a crime. We are here to help you stand up for your legal rights.