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What is Deferred Adjudication?

Posted By Kyle Law Firm || 12-Jan-2015

If you are ever convicted of a crime, it can be terrifying to think of the potential after-effects of sentencing. For example, how will you be able to get a job or rent an apartment with a criminal history? Will people look at you differently? Unfortunately, a criminal record can be a deterrent in this day and age.

For some crimes, however, there is the possibility that the case will get dismissed by meeting other conditions. This type of sentencing isn't a get out of jail free card-there are still strict regulations and potential effects to committing the crime-but it can help reduce the hold that a criminal charge has over your life.

What is deferred adjudication?

You might be wondering what this type of sentencing is and how you can receive it. While there are several types of programs designed to rehabilitate the accused and reward them for their participation, we will go into the specifics of deferred adjudication.

Deferred adjudication begins after a defendant pleads not guilty or nolo contendere to a crime. The judge will not enter a judgement of guilt, however, and will issue a number of conditions that the defendant must meet. If the conditions are met, then the charges will be dropped and there will be no criminal record. However, if the conditions are not met then the court will enter a judgement and determine a punishment. More importantly, a criminal conviction will show.

A deferred adjudication is slightly risky if a defendant is not willing to meet all the conditions set forth, because he or she has already entered in a guilty plea. This means that if the defendant is sent back to the judge for violating or not meeting the conditions, he or she does not have to go through trial and is simply sentenced.

Who is offered a deferred adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is offered to those with the best chance of rehabilitation, so anyone who has a history of multiple offenses or has committed a serious crime is likely not eligible for this sentencing. However, for drug and domestic offenses or first-time offenders of minor crimes this type of sentencing may be used.

A deferred adjudication may include community service, fines, or restitution payments to any victims of the crime. For drug or alcohol offenses, the conditions may include mandatory counseling or treatment programs.

Note that a deferred adjudication is a form of a plea deal, and can still be accessed by those in the justice system. Meaning that if a defendant enters into a deferred adjudication plea but then commits another offense, the previous crime that has been committed may be discovered and used to impose heavier sentencing on the current crime. The record will be visible to law enforcement and may be accessed by high-level government securities, thus hindering the ability to obtain employment in these sectors sometimes.

Because deferred adjudication is sometimes used by prosecutors in a tricky manner that results in the defendant's record not being cleared fully, it is essential to check with a lawyer before accepting this plea bargain. Some districts have different laws that may not treat deferred adjudication the same and may make it impossible to dismiss the charges. Consult with an attorney who can help you find the best way to get your charges dismissed. Our lawyers are experienced at reducing punishments and dismissing criminal charges so call us today for advice.

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