In Texas, deferred adjudication is an alternative sentence in some criminal cases—often offered to first-time offenders. With deferred adjudication, a criminal defendant may be able to avoid conviction on his/her criminal record by sealing it with a non-disclosure.
Elements of Texas Deferred Adjudication
Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, article 42.12, Section 5(a), when a person is charged with a crime that is eligible for deferred adjudication, he/she enters a guilty plea. Once a guilty plea is entered, the judge orders a deferring judgment, rather than finding the defendant guilty.
Instead of going to jail or prison as punishment, the judge sentences the defendant to a term of probation, also known as community supervision in Texas. If the defendant finished their probation term ordered by the court, the crime can be sealed from public view. By contrast, if the defendant fails to successfully complete the court-ordered term of probation, he/she automatically will be convicted of the underlying crime, which can potentially result in the maximum sentence permitted under state law.
Eligibility for Deferred Adjudication
According to Texas law, virtually any crime is eligible for deferred adjudication. However, there are several offenses where defendants are barred by law from receiving it.
The following are the only crimes that cannot receive deferred adjudication in Texas:
The decision to impose deferred adjudication is made according to a case-by-case basis. Factors that are taken into consideration when making a decision include the criminal history of the defendant, the seriousness of the crime, whether violence was involved, and whether anyone suffered any injuries derived from the crime.
The Advantages of a Deferred Adjudication
The main benefit of receiving deferred adjudication is avoiding a criminal conviction. While some employers do ask about deferred adjudications, many don’t. Simply put, if an individual has a deferred adjudication and successfully finished it, that person can lawfully claim that he/she has not been convicted of a criminal offense.