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Deferred Adjudication

Criminal Lawyers Serving Waco & McLennan County

There are few things more misunderstood in the world of criminal justice than deferred adjudication. The philosophy behind deferred adjudication is that society benefits if more people retain the ability to obtain good jobs and to be productive in those jobs. Therefore, a deferred adjudication probation presents the opportunity to keep a criminal conviction off of your permanent criminal history.

At Sutton Milam & Fanning, PLLC, our Waco criminal defense lawyers can walk you through the process step by step. Let our experienced attorneys be your guides and advocates from day one. Serving defendants and arrestees in Waco and Lorena, from Baylor University, and across McLennan County, we are committed to protecting futures.

For a free consultation, call (254) 237-5602. We will be happy to tell you more about deferred adjudication and whether it may apply in your case.

After Probation, Your Case Is Dismissed and You're Not Considered Guilty

Deferred adjudication works in the following way:

  • A person actually enters a plea of guilty before the court.
  • The judge will declare, "I find that there is enough evidence to establish your guilt, but I am not going to find you guilty at this time."
  • Then, if you successfully complete probation, then you are never found guilty and the case is ultimately dismissed.

The Downside of Deferred Adjudication

The bad part of deferred adjudication is that there is no cap (except for the statutory maximum, of course) on the punishment to which the judge can sentence you if you are subsequently adjudicated and your probation is revoked. For instance, if you are on deferred probation for a second-degree felony, it simply takes one failed drug test, one missed curfew, or getting one hour behind in your community service hours to give the judge to right to sentence you to 20 years.

Now, staying with this example, he or she would also have the discretion to sentence you to the minimum of two years. But the fact is that your fate would rest entirely in the hands of the judge. So before entering into a deferred probation, it is a good idea to make sure you are committed to the idea.

The serious benefits and potential consequences of deferred adjudication are best discussed with an experienced Waco criminal defense attorney. We welcome you to call our offices at any time to review your situation with one of our knowledgeable professionals.

Filing a Motion for Non-Disclosure in McLennan County, TX

After you complete the deferred adjudication, you may be able to file what is called a Motion for Non-Disclosure. This motion works in a similar fashion as when a juvenile is having his or her records sealed. The event does not "come off" your record completely like with an expunction, but it does make it impossible for the general public to view it.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, private citizens are not supposed to see that you were arrested and had your case dismissed pursuant to successfully completing a deferred probation. This is very helpful when it comes to being hired at a private company. However, law enforcement and any other state agencies would have access to the information. So, you could conceivably go to a job interview and legally deny you were ever arrested, but then get pulled over for speeding on the way home by an officer to whom you'd better tell all about the arrest.

If you plan to work in a profession such as teaching or counseling or practicing law or any other field that is overseen by a state board, a Motion for Non-Disclosure is not going to help you. The board, like the police officer, would have access to that information.

Assault Family Violence & Motions for Non-Disclosure

There are different rules regarding Motions for Non-Disclosure on different charges. For example, for the offense of Assault Family Violence, one may not file a Motion for Non-Disclosure. Our state legislature has ruled that family violence is one offense we should not let someone hide. Also, on some felony charges, there are waiting periods of differing amounts of time. Our Waco criminal lawyers can help answer those questions for you on a case-by-case basis.

Helping Clients at Baylor University, Lorena & Waco

In today's world of blogs, posts, and rants, it is impossible to guarantee that information about your case is not floating around somewhere in cyberspace, so there is no guarantee that accompanies a deferred adjudication and/or a Motion for Non-Disclosure.

Deferred adjudication can be helpful for other reasons, however. It can help you avoid certain collateral consequences that are triggered by a conviction. For instance, convictions for the offenses of Possession of Marijuana and Driving While License Invalid result in a driver's license suspension. A deferred adjudication on either charge can help you keep driving legally.

Learn more by calling our Waco criminal defense attorneys at (254) 237-5602.

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