Deferred adjudication is a type of probation that does not result in a final conviction. For example, in Kaufman County many defendants received plea bargain offers of deferred adjudication probation for misdemeanor marijuana cases, usually for a period of 6-12 months.
In order to accept a deferred adjudication the defendant pleads guilty. However, the judge will state that she is “withholding a finding of guilt” even though she has enough evidence (your guilty plea) to find you guilty.
If these defendants successfully complete probation, then they are never convicted of possession. Avoiding a final conviction has many advantages. These defendants would lose their college financial aid eligibility with a drug conviction. However, there are some common misconceptions about the benefits of deferred.
Deferred Adjudication does NOT mean a charge will not be on your record
Probably the biggest myth about deferred is that the case will not be on your record. I receive many phone calls from individuals who accepted and completed deferred probation only to find out that the case shows up on background checks. Despite having no conviction these individuals may be prevented from receiving professional licenses, or employment.
Completing a deferred probation does not keep private background check companies from sharing the information about your probation. You can not unring that bell. Once publicdata.com or knowX get the information, they will keep selling it. You can file a motion for non disclosure and seek restriction of this information. In an information age I find that an MFND will not always achieve the desired result.
Deferred cases can NOT be expunged
If your case is deferred you are not eligible to have that case expunged. Expunction in Texas is only for not guilty verdicts, and dismissals.
For more information on expunctions see Texas Expunctions 101.
Texas Deferred Reform
Many defendants accept deferred adjudication with a clear misunderstanding of the consequences. Deferred adjudication is supposed to be a second chance, a chance to keep one’s record clean. Even worse, it is most often offered in the weakest of cases. I have no doubt many innocent defendants plead guilty to deferred to avoid the possiblilty of a conviction and/or jail time.
Google searching led me to deferredadjudication.org, a group that lobbies for the rights of those on, or who have completed deferred probation. Texans who compete deferred deserve a fresh start. Ask you state rep to support reforms for deferred adjudication.