What You Should know about Deferred Adjudications in Texas

In Texas, many people have heard of a deferred adjudication yet, are unfamiliar with the specifics associated with this unique type of legal proceeding.  In short, a “deferred adjudication”, (the process of which is governed by Article 42.12, Section 5 within Chapter 42 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure), is a form of probation where the judge, after considering the evidence and ruling that it substantiates a person’s guilt, defers entering a guilty verdict.  Instead of the person being sent to prison, he or she is placed on “community supervision”, which is similar to probation in that it lasts for a certain period of time and carries with it a number of specific legal requirements.  Overall, if the person successfully completes all associated obligations, the judge will likely dismiss the underlying criminal charge and discharge the person from undergoing any further community supervision.

While deferred adjudication appears to be a worthwhile alternative for alleged criminal wrongdoers, especially first-time offenders, there still are a number of things to consider when pursuing this form of legal proceeding.  These are as follows:

  • As mentioned above, a deferred adjudication is a form of probation where the judge neither enters a guilty verdict nor criminally convicts an alleged offender.  However, if a person successfully completes all requirements associated therewith, he or she – without further action enumerated below – will still have a criminal record.  Meaning, if an employer conducts a background check on the individual, it will show that they have been arrested and also, entered a guilty plea with the court.  In Texas, it is a common misconception that once a person completes the deferred adjudication process and does so in full compliance with the law, that the court will automatically order the expunction of these records.  Unfortunately, this is not the case – the deferred adjudication proceeding, the underlying charges that brought about the case, and the arrest associated with those charges can still be discoverable.
  • A person can request that their criminal record be sealed through the filing a petition for nondisclosure.  As stated previously, the court does not automatically seal a person’s criminal records once they have completed the requirements associated with a deferred adjudication.  Also keep in mind that a nondisclosure is not equivalent to an expunction.  In an expunction, a person’s records are completely sealed and not subject to disclosure.   Also, this type of proceeding is extremely complicated and time-consuming.  As a result, many people fail to succeed in this regard.  However, a nondisclosure, while not as challenging as an expunction to obtain, prevents the general public and prospective employers from viewing your records.  Keep in mind that it does not shield a person from government review.
  • It is important to realize that there are a certain number of offenses that may qualify for deferred adjudication yet, are not subject to a nondisclosure order.  These offenses include, but are not limited to, the following: prohibited sexual assault (i.e. incest), murder, aggravated kidnapping, child endangerment/abandonment, sexual assault of a minor, and compelling prostitution.
  • There is no constitutional right to a deferred adjudication. This is something that results from a combination of deft negotiation, legal advocacy and a command of the criminal justice system.

If you or someone you love has been arrested and would like to learn more about deferred adjudication in Texas, contact Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.  For more than thirty years, criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit has been successfully representing clients located throughout the City of Dallas and the entire County of Dallas.  We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.


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