Deferred Adjudication 101

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 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, 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.

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5 responses to “Deferred Adjudication 101”

  1. Rob Sandifer says:

    Dear Mr. Guest,
    I am part of a statewide movement to reform the criminal records expunction laws so that deserving, non-repeat offending Texas citizens who took deferred adjudication might one day be able to get their criminal records expunged. I have been given to understand that most anyone in Texas who took deferred adjudication is barred by law from being able to obtain an expunction. Most recently, I drafted a document entitled “DAunderIndictment” which seeks to “demystify” deferred adjudication and discuss it from certain angles which are rarely discussed in the Texas legislature when it is in session. This document can be downloaded from:
    After you have perused my document, I would certainly be interested in hearing your opinion on the matter.

    Rob Sandifer

  2. Baillie says:

    Over 24 years ago I accepted Deffered Adjudication on a DWI charge in Houson. I was assured by my attorney that if i successfully served out my probation my record would be clean. I accepted these terms. A few months ago, i was speaking to an attorney at my car dealers office and brought this up, he assured me that it was still on my record and would be visible if anyone looked up my background.

    I think that I was intentionally lied to by my attorney. I also am very puzzled after researching D.A. how does it help the accused? I don’t see the point, and it cost me more in the way of money to go this route.

    I think this is a disgracful abuse of the law. Also, i now see that D.A. can never be expunged since you don’t actually have a final conviction, but you still have the name.

    I see how D.A. helps the system, both in money and time, but it is the accused that is taken advantage of, and usually by the person they trust the most, their attorney.

  3. Max says:

    Can we file a lawsuit regarding D.A. against any Texas Agencies such as TCLEOSE which sees D.A. as a conviction. Under C.C.P. 42.12, it clearly states that D.A. is not a conviction. Also can we file a lawsuit against our lawyers who said our record will be cleared?

  4. sherry says:

    In essence, D.A. is a conviction and employers, landlords, state agencies, etc. treat it as such. A one time mistake can rob you of a job, education or a decent place to live the rest of your life. It also creates a huge burden on the families of these defendants. If Obama wants a stimulus to the current economic situation, how about allowing these victims of the D.A. lie a chance to be working, contributing members of society. This lie robs the defendant of their constitutional rights, creates a flow of money into the judicial system and keeps the defendant in the loop forever. By the way our tax dollars are supporting this — when people are set up for failure, they will end up in jail and we all will pay for it.

  5. John says:

    Can anyone point me in the direction of how to sue the state of texas for breach of contract… the laws on this subject will never be changed due to the money it creates for the counties who push this type of justice onto unsuspecting and uneducated people in our society. Basically it keeps counties in the black so they can prosecute other cases. If everyone joined together in a lawsuit against the state of texas for not doing what they said they would do in the contract we signed the legislature would act very quickly to save the state millions upon millions of dollars they would have to dish out for their wrong doings.

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