Law Office of Kimberly N. Shanklin, PLLC.
Serving Denton County Since 2002
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Deferred Adjudication

What it is and what it means

Deferred Adjudication

Deferred Adjudication is a specific form of probation in which a defendant will enter a guilty plea, but instead of finding the defendant guilty a judge will “defer” the question of guilt. A defendant who has successfully completed their program for deferred adjudication will have their arrest and charge show up on a criminal background check, as well as the deferred adjudication status, but they are not to be considered to be convicted of the crime under Texas law. Many individuals who complete a deferred adjudication program can seal their records from public view via a non-disclosure, however there are some offenses which do not qualify for a non-disclosure, and many offenses require a waiting period before a non-disclosure can be made.

A criminal background check will show the arrest for the charge, will show the Deferred Adjudication, but it will not show a conviction.
— Avvo Inc.

One of the key differences between standard probation and deferred adjudication are the consequences for violating the requirements of the respective programs. Terms for the violation of a probation agreement are typically already set. Meaning, a probation agreement will set the duration of probation, as well as the duration of imprisonment if the agreement is violated. Under deferred adjudication, if an individual violates their agreement they are subject to the full range of penalty under the original statute. If a crime carries with it a punishment of 2-10 years in prison, the judge has the ability to enact the harshest penalty.

A deferred adjudication, while still showing up on a background check, is an attractive option for individuals who wish to save their criminal record from showing a conviction. Having a deferred adjudication show up on a background check may still limit an individual’s job opportunities, as well as car leasing options, but the alternative of conviction undoubtedly limits opportunities further.

The full online archive of the Texas Constitution and Statutes is available through https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/