What is deferred adjudication?

Deferred adjudication in Texas is probation without a conviction. It allows people to resolve their criminal cases by completing probation without taking a conviction on their records. This is the main benefit for this type of probation. But as we will see below, deferred probation exposes a person to the max jail time if they break the rules of probation.

Straight Probation vs Deferred Probation in Texas.

A comparison of straight probation and deferred adjudication will show us the pros and cons of deferred probation. Normally, when a person pleads guilty to a crime, a judge will find the person guilty and either send him to jail or put him on regular probation. This is because the court finds the person guilty of a crime.

Thus, in a regular or straight probation case, the judge will not only set the jail term, but also the probation term. For instance, if it is a third-degree felony, the judge may give the person five years in jail, but suspend and probate the sentence for eight years. In this example, the person is on probation for 8 years. If the person breaks probation, then the judge will give the person 5 years in jail.

In contrast with straight or regular probation, the judge does not set the underlying jail term in a deferred probation case. This is because the judge does not find the person guilty of a crime. Rather, the judge sets only the time the person will be on probation.

Using the example above, if the person pleads guilty to a third-degree felony, then the judge will set deferred probation term for five years. Equally important, the judge will pause the case to give the person time to complete probation. If the person completes the deferred probation without any problems, then the court will dismiss the case without finding the person guilty of a crime.

What are the consequences of breaking deferred adjudication probation?

Deferred adjudication comes with a big catch. If you break your deferred probation, then the judge can give you the full range of punishment. In our example above, if you are on probation for a third-degree felony, then the judge can give you up to 10 years in jail.

This is because when the judge placed you on deferred probation, the judge did not find you guilty. Therefore, the judge could not set your jail term. But once you break probation, then the judge has the option to find you guilty and set your jail term.

This can have serious consequences for someone on deferred probation for a top felony. To see why, let’s consider a case where a person in on deferred probation for a first-degree drug crime. If the person breaks the rules of deferred adjudication, then the judge can give the person anywhere between 5 to 99 years or life in jail.

This is one of the major differences between regular probation and deferred probation. Regular or straight probation caps your max jail term up front. So you know how much jail time you will get if you break your probation. Deferred adjudication does not. The good news is that an MTR defense lawyer can help you if you break your probation.

What is the max time a person can be on deferred adjudication in Texas?

The max term for a felony deferred probation case is 10 years. The max term for a misdemeanor deferred probation is 2 years.

Does deferred adjudication show up on a background check?

Yes. Deferred adjudication probation records are not confidential. As a result, these records will show up on a background check.

Nevertheless, in many cases, Texas law allows people who complete deferred probation to seal their records. To get your records sealed, you must file a petition with the court asking for an order of nondisclosure. If the court grants your request, then DPS will seal your records.

Of major interest, an order of nondisclosure comes with limits. Namely, government agencies will still be able to see your record. Specifically, if you want to become a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or child-care provider, then the licensing agencies will see your record.

Will deferred adjudication probation hurt my immigration status?

It might. Critically, if you are not a U.S. Citizen, then you should speak with an immigration lawyer before you decide to accept a deferred probation deal. Otherwise, a deferred probation deal could hurt your chances of staying or remaining in the country.

Can you early terminate deferred adjudication probation in Texas?

Yes. You can end your deferred probation early if you complete all your classes, pay off your fines, and complete your community service hours.

Is deferred probation right for me?

Deferred probation is a good way to resolve a criminal case. It allows people to avoid a conviction on their record. This alone is a strong reason to consider this option. But at the same time, deferred probation is not right for everyone. Especially if you are not a U.S. Citizen. Accordingly, you should always speak with a qualified attorney to see if this type of probation is right for you.

Defense Attorney Genaro R. Cortez. Phone: 210-733-7575.

Genaro R. Cortez is a criminal defense attorney in San Antonio. Since 2003, Mr. Cortez has handled hundreds of deferred adjudication cases. These cases include probation for clients charged with assault, theft, and drug crimes.

San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.
Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.

If police arrested you for a felony or misdemeanor crime and you want to learn more about deferred adjudication, then call 210-733-7575 today. Mr. Cortez offers free case evaluations and he can help you decide if deferred probation is right for you.