The most straightforward explanation of deferred adjudication is that deferred adjudication is just like probation, but it is not a conviction. Deferred adjudication in Texas is an alternative to jail or prison time and is a form of community supervision (probation) that is allowed under Code of Criminal Procedure 42A.101 through 42A.111. The most important difference between deferred adjudication and “straight probation” is that deferred adjudication avoids a conviction for most purposes while straight probation is considered a conviction. Deferred adjudication is commonly abbreviated as “DFAJ” on court paperwork.
No. A person cannot get deferred adjudication from a jury. The deferment must happen before a person is found guilty. As a result, only a judge can place a person on deferred adjudication. In order to do so, the person must plead guilty, and the judge will accept their plea without finding them guilty, thereby placing the person on deferred adjudication for period of time.
If you successfully complete deferred adjudication, your case will be dismissed without a conviction on your record. While the arrest never automatically falls off your record, you may be eligible to have your arrest sealed or expunged after the required waiting period.
A misdemeanor punishable by jail can be deferred for up to two years. A felony can generally be deferred for up to ten years. Skilled defense attorneys may be able to negotiate terms that are not as long. A person charged with indecency with a child, sexual assault of a child, or aggravated sexual assault of a child cannot be placed on deferred for less than five years.
You will also want to speak to your attorney about early release from deferred adjudication if you have been doing well during the deferred adjudication period and you have not had any violations. A judge may release a person from deferred adjudication early when it is in the best interest of society and the probationer. However, a probationer does not have a right to early termination; it is purely discretionary on the part of the judge to allow someone to be released from deferred adjudication early.
Occasionally, a person on deferred adjudication decides that the conditions of deferred adjudication are too onerous to comply with. They regret having pled to deferred adjudication and look for a way out. Unknown to most defense attorneys is a provision under CCP 42A.107 which allows for a written motion to be filed within 30 days of the plea asking the judge to proceed to adjudication – which of course means time in jail or prison and a conviction.
No. There are certain offenses that you cannot get deferred adjudication for in Texas, such as continuous sexual assault of a minor, certain drug offenses in drug free zones, and any offense involving an intoxicated driver, such as DWI, intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter.
The judge sets conditions of deferred adjudication probation. The most common conditions of deferred adjudication in Texas requires that a probationer:
In Tarrant County, felony probation officers supervise approximately 130 people in any given month. Most adult probationers are ordered to report once a month for half hour meetings. Probationers on more serious offenses might have in-home visits or inspections and field visits by a probation officer.
Failure to comply with any of the conditions of deferred adjudication could result in sanctions, a petition to revoke probation or adjudicate, and ultimately a jail or penitentiary sentence. A defendant is entitled to due process and a hearing on any alleged violation of probation. This hearing is before a judge who will determine if conditions have been violated. The judge will have sole discretion to then sentence the defendant to the penitentiary or jail if a violation occurred. Unlike a trial on the merits of a case, the State only has to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence.
When a person is on deferred adjudication, the court has the entire range of punishment for the underlying offense at its disposal.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are hoping to avoid a conviction or if you are trying to clear your record, call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:
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