Navigating the legal system can be a complex and stressful experience. If you’ve recently found yourself in a situation that calls for legal assistance, understanding your options can make all the difference.
One such option that often comes up in criminal cases is deferred adjudication. The general public does not widely understand this option. Still, a competent criminal defense attorney can explain the ins and outs to you, helping you decide if it’s the right defense strategy for your case.
At the Burkett Law Firm, facing any criminal charge can be challenging. We are here to help you understand your rights and how deferred adjudication works.
What Is Deferred Adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is a plea deal where you plead “guilty” or “no contest” to a criminal charge. However, the court defers or postpones the final judgment instead of receiving an immediate conviction and sentence.
You are then placed on community supervision, commonly known as probation. If you complete the probation period and meet all other requirements set forth by the court, the charges against you could be dismissed. This process is quite common in Corpus Christi and other parts of Texas.
There are a lot of things that need to be clarified about deferred adjudication in Texas. One is that it will remove the charge entirely from your record; however, this is not true.
Completing a deferred adjudication will not make it disappear. For this to happen, you must file a petition for non-disclosure, which seals your record. Unfortunately, not all offenses are eligible for this option.
Additionally, if you were dealing with felony charges, you must wait at least five years from the day you completed your probation to file for non-disclosure. Understanding this aspect is necessary to decide whether this is the right option for you.
How Does It Work?
To be eligible for deferred adjudication, your Corpus Christi defense strategy would typically involve pleading “guilty” or “no contest” to the charges. Your criminal defense attorney would then argue why you are a good candidate for deferred adjudication.
If the judge agrees, you will enter into a probation period instead of receiving a conviction. The length and terms of the probation will vary depending on the severity of the offense and other factors, such as your criminal history.
During probation, you may be required to:
Complete Community Service
Completing community service involves dedicating a set number of hours to unpaid work for the benefit of your community. This can range from picking up trash to volunteering at local shelters, and serves as a reparative action for your offense.
Attend Educational or Treatment Programs
This entails enrolling in courses or programs designed to rehabilitate offenders. Programs may include drug and alcohol treatment, anger management, or educational courses to improve skills and discourage future criminal behavior.
Pay Fines and Court Costs
In addition to other probationary measures, you may be required to pay certain fines and cover court costs. Failing to meet these financial obligations could result in penalties, including potential revocation of your deferred adjudication.
Stay Away from Certain People or Places
As part of your probation, the court may issue a ‘no contact’ order, mandating that you avoid specific individuals or locations associated with criminal behavior. Violating these restrictions could jeopardize your deferred adjudication status.
Report to a Probation Officer Regularly
Regularly meeting with a probation officer is often mandatory under deferred adjudication. These meetings track your progress, verify your compliance with probation terms, and provide guidance during rehabilitation.
If you meet all these conditions, the charge may be dismissed at the end of the probation period. However, a failure to comply with the terms could lead to an immediate conviction and sentencing.
Advantages of Deferred Adjudication
Here are some reasons why you might consider deferred adjudication as part of your Corpus Christi defense strategy:
Avoid a Criminal Record
One of the significant advantages of deferred adjudication is that you can potentially avoid a criminal conviction on your record. This is especially beneficial when applying for jobs, housing, or educational opportunities.
Flexibility in Sentencing
Deferred adjudication often allows for more flexible sentencing options. You can avoid jail time and complete programs or community service that could benefit you in the long run.
Possibility of Dismissal
If you complete your probation period and meet all other conditions, the charge against you is dismissed. This is as close as you can get to a “clean slate” without going to trial.
Considerations and Risks
Deferred adjudication is not without its risks. If you violate the terms of your probation, the judge has the authority to adjudicate you, meaning you could be convicted and sentenced immediately. Also, deferred adjudication is not expunged from your record. While it’s not a conviction, it will still be visible to law enforcement and may be used against you in future criminal proceedings.
Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney
Deferred adjudication can be a viable and effective defense strategy, but it’s crucial to consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney to evaluate your options. Laws and regulations can vary, and what works in one case may not necessarily be effective in another. Your attorney can guide you through the complexities of the Corpus Christi legal system and help you decide if deferred adjudication is the best course of action for you.
We Can Help You Understand Your Options When Facing Criminal Charges
Deferred adjudication is an option worth considering if you are entangled in a criminal case in Corpus Christi. However, this option is not a one-size-fits-all solution and comes with challenges and considerations. To fully understand if this is the right avenue, consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Your freedom and future are too important to leave to chance—make sure you are well informed and adequately represented as you navigate the Corpus Christi legal system.