What is Deferred Adjudication in Texas?

Attorney Trey Porter
Trey Porter

What is Deferred Adjudication in Texas?

Deferred Adjudication in Texas Law

Deferred adjudication is a special form of community supervision that allows a person to avoid the risk of incarceration and consequences of a criminal conviction.

Deferred adjudication is available for most criminal charges in Texas. Deferred adjudication can be part of a plea bargain agreement with the State, however, the judge makes the final decision of granting or denying an application for deferred adjudication. 

  • Is Deferred Adjudication Considered a Conviction in Texas? Deferred adjudication is not considered a conviction in Texas criminal law. If a judge grants deferred adjudication, the charge is dismissed and the case is closed after successful completion of probation.
  • What does deferred adjudication in Texas mean? Deferred adjudication means to put off or postpone the final decision of guilt in a criminal case for a set number of months or years. By granting deferred adjudication, a judge is deferring the finality of the case until the end of the term of probation. 

WHO QUALIFIES FOR DEFERRED ADJUDICATION IN TEXAS?

Criminal defendants facing misdemeanor charges qualify for deferred adjudication as well as many facing felony charges in Texas. An eligible criminal defendant will submit a deferred adjudication application at the time of their plea. The trial court judge ultimately decides whether to grant deferred adjudication and will consider several factors including the defendant’s criminal history and the evidence in the criminal charge.

  • Does Deferred Adjudication Stay on Your Record Deferred adjudication does not remove a charge from a person’s record. The disposition (final result) will show as dismissed, but the record of the arrest and prosecution will remain. So, while there is no final conviction, the arrest and charge will appear on background checks forever, unless expunged or sealed.
  • Is deferred adjudication the same as probation in Texas? Deferred adjudication is a form of probation in Texas. Defendants on deferred adjudication must comply with probation conditions (including community service and fee/fine payments) but are eligible for a dismissal upon completion of community supervision. Defendants who fail to complete their deferred adjudication probation are subject to revocation and may be sentenced to the full range of punishment for the individual charge. 

HOW TO GET DEFERRED ADJUDICATION IN TEXAS?

To get deferred adjudication in Texas, a defendant must complete the application paperwork and enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) before the judge. In certain circumstances, it can be beneficial to provide additional information in an effort to persuade the judge. Deferred adjudication is not available after a jury trial.

  • How do I request deferred adjudication in Texas? Requesting deferred is done by completing an application and verbally asking the judge to grant the application at the time of plea. The State must waive its right to trial in order to allow a defendant to apply for deferred adjudication in Texas.
  • How common is deferred adjudication? Deferred adjudication is a common component of Texas criminal justice and plea bargains. However, the details of the case and a person’s criminal history will impact the likelihood of getting deferred adjudication. 

DEFERRED ADJUDICATION FOR MISDEMEANOR IN TEXAS?

Deferred adjudication is available for all misdemeanor offenses in Texas including Assault, many domestic violence offenses, and drug/controlled substance crimes. Successfully completing deferred adjudication allows a person to avoid a final conviction, and in some situations creates an opportunity to to seal the record of the incident at a later date. 

  • Can you get deferred adjudication for a DWI in Texas? Deferred adjudication is available for people facing a first-time DWI charge. There are a number of qualifying factors, including blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and whether or not the incident involved an accident.
  • Can a misdemeanor deferred adjudication be expunged in Texas? It is not possible to expunge the record after completing deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor offense in Texas. It is possible to seal the record through an order of nondisclosure after deferred adjudication.

CAN YOU GET DEFERRED ADJUDICATION FOR A FELONY IN TEXAS?

Deferred adjudication is available for most, but not all, felony offenses in Texas. Successfully completing deferred adjudication allows a person to avoid prison, a final conviction, and convicted felon status. 

  • How long does it take to get a deferred adjudication felony in Texas? The timeline to obtain deferred adjudication for a felony charge for Texas can vary. Felony charges in Texas must be presented to a grand jury. This step can, in some counties, add considerable delay.
  • Can a felony deferred adjudication be expunged in Texas? A felony deferred adjudication cannot be expunged in Texas. In some circumstances the court records can be sealed through an order of nondisclosure.

IS DEFERRED ADJUDICATION WORTH IT?

Deferred adjudication is better than straight probation. Deferred adjudication begins with no conviction, and a guaranteed pathway to dismissal. If all terms and conditions are met by the end of a deferred term, the charge is dismissed. In many cases, the charge can later be sealed through a petition for non-disclosure.

  • What are the risks of deferred adjudication? The main risk with deferred adjudication is the severity of the consequences for noncompliance. If the State files a motion to revoke probation during the period of supervision, the judge can order any punishment applicable under law, up to the maximum. Deferred adjudication Defendants should therefore comply with all conditions including drug tests and refrain from further crime.
  • Is deferred the same as dismissed Deferred is not the same as dismissed in Texas. Completing deferred adjudication is not the same as if the case were dismissed for a legal reason. While deferred adjudication is the best outcome in many situations, it is important to review the potential collateral consequences deferred adjudication for a particular charge can have.
  • What does deferred mean in Texas? Deferred means to postpone or put off until a later time. If a judge grants deferred adjudication in Texas, the judge is not dismissing the case. Rather, the judge is simply rescheduling the date on which the decision will be made until after the deferred sentence. 

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF DEFERRED ADJUDICATION IN TEXAS?

At the end of the deferred adjudication term, the State submits paperwork to the judge terminating supervision and dismissing the charge. Once the judge signs the paperwork, the case is closed, and the Defendant is discharged. This is often done without a hearing requiring the Defendant to appear in court. 

  • Does deferred adjudication show up on a background check in Texas? A criminal charge remains on the record forever, even after deferred adjudication. In some situations, a person may be able to have the record sealed through an order of nondisclosure.
  • How long does deferred adjudication stay on record in Texas? Texas criminal charges stay on the record forever. There is no time period after which they “fall off” or are automatically removed. Completing deferred adjudication does not change this. Deferred adjudication can be a powerful option to avoid a criminal conviction, but it does not have the effect of clearing the criminal record. 

DEFERRED ADJUDICATION TERMINATED IN TEXAS

Deferred adjudication terms in Texas are pre-set. This means that a judge orders a specific terms of months or years when granting deferred adjudication. At the end of the term, supervision is terminated and the case is closed. 

  • How do I get off deferred probation early in Texas? To get off deferred probation early in Texas a person must file a motion requesting the judge order early termination. There are a number of factors associated with early termination and a prosecutor from the district attorney’s office may oppose the Defendant’s petition.
  • Can you get an apartment with deferred adjudication? You can get an apartment while on deferred adjudication in Texas. There is no law prohibiting an apartment company from leasing to a person on probation.  
  • Will deferred adjudication keep me from getting a job? Deferred adjudication does not legally prevent a person from obtaining a job. Employers can and often do use criminal history in the hiring process. Deferred adjudication is one way to avoid a criminal conviction, which can be very helpful when searching employment opportunities. 

CAN I BUY A GUN AFTER DEFERRED ADJUDICATION IN TEXAS?

Deferred adjudication does not cancel the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Deferred adjudication can cause a temporary change in a person’s right to purchase and possess a gun, however. Federal law and Texas law differ with regard to guns and deferred adjudication. It is critical to discuss these issues with an experienced criminal defense attorney and law firm.

  • Can I carry a gun in Texas with deferred adjudication? Deferred adjudication is not a conviction and therefore does not directly revoke the right to possess a firearm. Under Texas law, you can carry a gun after completing deferred adjudication as probation conditions frequently prohibit firearms during probation. It is important to note that Texas law differs from Federal law with regard to gun rights.
  • Can I own a gun after deferred adjudication in Texas? Yes, it is possible to legally own a gun after deferred adjudication in Texas. 

WHAT IS DEFERRED DISPOSITION IN TEXAS?

Deferred disposition is different from deferred adjudication in Texas. Deferred disposition is most common in Texas for class C misdemeanor charges like DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and simple Assault. The biggest difference between deferred disposition and deferred adjudication is the former qualifies for expungement.

  • How long is deferred disposition in Texas? Deferred Disposition can last no longer than 6 months pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Who is eligible for deferred disposition in Texas? Everyone is eligible for Deferred Disposition in Texas, though there are certain disqualifications associated with criminal history and commercially licensed drivers.

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Trey Porter is one of the highest-rated criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Nationally recognized, Mr. Porter relentlessly fights to protect and assert his clients’ constitutional rights in and out of courtrooms across the state.

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