Deferred adjudication in Texas is the process of “putting off” and eventually dismissing a conviction. Deferred adjudication can help you avoid a conviction and all the nasty consequences that come with it. If you’re in a position where you’re asking, “How does deferred adjudication in Texas work?” chances are that you or a loved one are facing a conviction and need to explore your options.
Read on to learn more about deferred adjudication in Texas, what deferred adjudication requires of you, the difference between deferred adjudication and parole, and what happens if you violate the deferred adjudication.
In many ways, deferred adjudication in Texas is akin to probation (which is called “community supervision” in Texas). If a judge grants the defendant deferred adjudication, the defendant must adhere to all of the terms of the probation. These exact terms will be determined by the severity of the crime, but typically includes regular visits to and by a probation officer, keeping a job, community service, not using drugs, and (of course) not committing more crimes.
If you are able to meet all the requirements of your deferred adjudication for its duration, then your judge will drop your charges. However, that does not mean that your charges or your deferred adjudication are expunged from your record—only that you will not have a conviction on your record.
Deferred adjudication in Texas is most commonly offered to first-time offenders. For example, a first offense for misdemeanor criminal trespass and burglary might be eligible. The length of your deferred adjudication will also depend on the severity of your crime, but as a general rule, you can have a deferred adjudication for up to 2 years for a misdemeanor charge and up to 10 for some felony charges.
Something to understand: deferred adjudication is not a right. You cannot demand it of the judge, but you can petition the court. Your judge will determine whether or not deferred adjudication is granted.
There are several kinds of crimes that make you immediately ineligible for deferred adjudication. These include (among many others) cases which require the defendant to register as a sex offender and cases involving trafficking, murder, and kidnapping.
DWI is also a crime that is ineligible for deferred adjudication, even a first DWI offense. Unfortunately, if you’ve been charged with DWI, you won’t be able to take a DWI education program and call it day in Texas.
Finally, in order to receive deferred adjudication, the defendant must plea either “guilty” or “no contest.”
No! Even though you must plea either “guilty” or “no contest” in order to qualify for deferred adjudication, deferred adjudication in Texas is not a conviction. Again, if you are able to successfully adhere to the requirements of your deferred adjudication, the judge will dismiss your charges. The charges and the deferred adjudication will show up on your record but not as a conviction.
The main difference between probation and deferred adjudication in Texas is timing. Probation occurs after conviction. Deferred adjudication is a chance to avoid conviction (and a conviction showing up on your record) by living under “probation-like” restrictions for a set amount of time. The other core difference between deferred adjudication and probation is the consequences you face when you violate their terms.
This is no joke. If you violate any of the conditions of your deferred adjudication probation, the prosecution has the right to file a petition to terminate the deferred adjudication and move forward with convicting you. If they’re successful, then you’re vulnerable to be convicted for up to the full amount of punishable time in prison.
Having a conviction on your criminal record can make life extremely difficult. Depending on what you’re charged with, a conviction can make it harder to find employment and public housing. You can also lose: right to vote, access to public assistance such as food stamps and the ability to adopt or foster a child. All of this, plus possible jail time.
Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Doug Wilder and The Wilder Firm can help you find out whether you’re eligible for deferred adjudication in Texas. We will use our decades of experience to work alongside you and to ensure that you have the best defense for your case. Contact The Wilder Firm today to learn how we can protect your rights and fight for your future!