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Deferred Adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a type of plea used in Texas. It’s normally offered to first-time offenders who have minor charges because it has less conditions than community supervision. It also doesn’t show a conviction on your record. Instead your plea of guilty or no contest will be deferred and only an arrest will appear on your record.

It’s important that you’re aware of the pros and cons of deferred adjudication. Many share the common misconception that a deferred adjudication erases your criminal charges. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. The only way to truly seal your record is to file for non-disclosure or have the charges expunged. In addition, you will be required to comply with the terms and conditions that are associated with your deferred adjudication.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense was offered deferred adjudication, it’s important that you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Lawyer for Deferred Adjudication in Austin, TX

Criminal charges are stressful long after trial proceedings. Future employers or licensing agencies may have access to the criminal charges on your record. You could have one simple mistake follow you around for the remainder of your life. Don’t let your life be dictated by one incident. Contact Kevin Bennett to discuss your legal options today.

You may be eligible for deferred adjudication, which means you won’t have a conviction on your record.  In fact, if you successfully complete the program you will have your charges dismissed. Call Kevin Bennett now for a case evaluation. He can review your charges and see if you’re eligible for deferred adjudication.

Contact Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626 to schedule a free consultation. He practices law throughout the greater Travis County area including Sunset Valley, Austin, Lago Vista and Rollingwood.


Overview of Deferred Adjudication in Texas


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How Does Deferred Adjudication Work in Texas?

Texas law refers to probation as “community supervision.” There are two types of community supervision; standard community supervision and deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication is when you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, but your guilt is deferred.

This means you won’t have a final conviction on your record. However, you must complete the terms and conditions of the program. Usually, the terms and conditions for deferred adjudication are much less stringent than standard community supervision. You may still be required to attend rehabilitative classes, undergo drug screenings or any other condition imposed by a judge.

Similar to probation, people on deferred adjudication must complete the program to reap the benefits. If you don’t violate the terms of your deferred adjudication, the judge will then be able to dismiss your charges. Deferred adjudication cannot be granted by a jury. You must ask for or be offered deferred adjudication before you go to trial.


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What’s the Difference Between Deferred Adjudication and Probation in Texas?

Probation and deferred adjudication are both types of community supervision but have different outcomes. Each type requires an enter of guilty or no contest. However, the effects of probation are much more detrimental than deferred adjudication.

Probation requires a final conviction. You must enter a guilty or no contest plea and the judge will accept the plea. Instead of imposing incarceration the judge will “probate” the sentence. This means you can complete the probation program instead of going to prison.

The downside of this is that employers and licensing agencies will see a conviction on your record. It also means that if you commit another crime your prior conviction may be used against you in court. One of the biggest cons about probation is that you cannot file a petition for non-disclosure. This means you won’t be able to seal your record of conviction.

Deferred adjudication also requires a plea. You’ll be required to enter a plea of guilty no contest, but the judge won’t accept it. They will instead defer your adjudication of guilt if you agree to complete certain terms and conditions. These conditions are much less restrictive and expensive than standard probation.

If you successfully complete your deferred adjudication term, then your case will be dismissed. You won’t have a conviction on your record for employers or licensing agencies to see. The best part about deferred adjudication is that you could file for an order of non-disclosure. If the order is granted, then you will be able to have your record sealed completely.


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How Long is Deferred Adjudication in Texas?

Texas has set laws for the duration of a deferred adjudication term. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 42A.103 states the maximum period of deferred adjudication for a:

  • Misdemeanor Case is up to 2 years; and
  • Felony Case is up to 10 years.

If the felony offense was for any of the following the period of deferred adjudication cannot be less than five years. The age of the victim isn’t a factor in determining the period of deferred adjudication.

  • Indecency with a child;
  • Sexual Assault;
  • Aggravated sexual assault;
  • Sexual offenses in a child safety zone;
  • Human trafficking in a child safety zone;
  • Burglary in a child safety zone; or
  • Aggravated kidnapping in a child safety zone.

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Penalties for Violating Deferred Adjudication in Texas

Violating the conditions of your deferred adjudication can result in serious consequences. If you violate your deferred adjudication, the judge can choose to “adjudicate” your guilt. You would be required to serve the full statutory penalties of the offense, which includes serving jail or prison time.

You can request a hearing regarding the violation. If you choose to request a hearing to combat the violation, it’s recommended that you contact an attorney. A skilled attorney can collect evidence and fight for your rights in court. Even if the violation is proven, your attorney may be able to argue for lighter penalties.


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Common Myths About Deferred Adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a great option if you’re eligible. However, you may have an inaccurate idea of what a deferred adjuration can do. Your record doesn’t disappear if you successfully completed deferred adjudication. You can only erase your record if you expunge it through a petition of non-disclosure.

You cannot receive deferred adjudication for some offenses. These crimes include:

  • Intoxication assault;
  • Intoxication manslaughter;
  • A repeat drug crime in a drug-free zone; and
  • A repeat sex offense.

Another misconception of deferred adjudication involves sealing your record. You won’t be able to immediately file for non-disclosure after you complete your deferred adjudication. Texas requires you to wait a certain period of time before filing for non-disclosure. Once that period has passed you can pursue the sealing process.


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Texas Now Allows DWI Cases to Obtain Deferred Adjudication

Since 1984, Texans charged with driving under the influence were unable to obtain deferred adjudication. The reasoning for this was to force DWI defendants to face their actions and deter others from drinking in the future. However, this inability to receive deferred adjudication led to a massive backlog of DWI cases and many people unable to secure a job because of their past criminal record.

Now, first-time DWI offenders can get a “second chance” with the new House Bill 3582 passing September 1st, 2019. You can now apply for deferred adjudication if this is your first DWI offense and you haven’t received a deferred adjudication sentence within the last five years. Some DWI offenses, however, don’t qualify for deferred adjudication such as intoxication assault or a high BAC DWI.

If you are interested in obtaining deferred adjudication for a DWI charge, then you must install an alcohol monitoring device. If you have a car, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device. These are breathalyzers attached to your car that require a breath sample to turn on the engine. Failure to provide one or blowing over the legal limit will result in your car’s engine locking for a period of time.

If you don’t have a car, then the court will court order you to carry a portable alcohol monitor (PAM). These devices are portable breathalyzers that you’re required to give a sample to during specific times of day. Submitting a sample over the legal limit will cause the device to notify the appropriate authorities.

After your deferred adjudication, you can then wait until it’s time to petition for non-disclosure. This petition, if passed, will allow you to hide your DWI charge and arrest from the general public. Only a few parties will be able to access your prior record such as judges, prosecuting attorneys and federal law enforcement.


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Additional Resources

Deferred Adjudication – Visit the official website for Texas courts to access written testimony regarding deferred adjudication for the Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee. Access the document to learn more about deferred adjudication, orders of non-disclosure and the expunction process.

Texas Probation Laws – Visit the official website for Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to find more information surrounding deferred adjudication. Access the statute to learn more about deferred adjudication, how to be eligible, affirmative findings and the conditions for standard community supervision.


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Lawyer for Deferred Adjudication in Travis County, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with deferred adjudication, it’s important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Find strong legal representation today with Kevin Bennett. He’s a qualified criminal defense attorney with a passion for helping others.

Kevin Bennett has years of experience helping his clients receive deferred adjudication. He can use his skills and resources to guide you through the deferred adjudication process. In addition, Kevin Bennett can also assist you in filing a petition of non-disclosure once you’re eligible. Contact him today (512) 476-4626 for a free consultation.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients throughout the greater Austin area including Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and Sunset Valley.


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CLIENT TESTIMONIALS