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January 30th, 2015 :

Deferred Disposition vs. Deferred Adjudication in Texas

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Tags: Legal Terms Explained, Deferred Disposition, Deferred Adjudication, Texas Law, Expunction,

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Deferred Disposition vs. Deferred Adjudication in Texas

Clients are often confused about the terms “deferred disposition” and “deferred adjudication.” These terms mean two very different things and could affect a client’s future very differently.

Let’s start with Deferred Adjudication. This case disposition is a type of probation available in Class B misdemeanors or higher charges (not Class C misdemeanors: traffic ticket level offenses). Essentially, in this disposition you plead guilty; but, the judge doesn’t find you guilty and instead places you on probation. If you successfully abide by all of the terms of probation, the court will check your criminal background for new offenses, and if there are none, then the judge will not find you guilty and will end the case (dismiss) against you. The best way to think about this disposition is that the judge is postponing the finding of guilt until you complete probation and will never find you guilty if you complete probation successfully.  Disposition on these cases usually involves all of the following (some of which may vary based on the case and circumstances): monthly meeting with probation officer, community service hours, court costs, $62.00 a month in probation fees, fines, urinalysis for drugs and alcohol. If, however, when your criminal background is checked and new offenses are found or you do not complete probation successfully, then your plea of guilty will be used against you and the case will move forward against you with the signed admission of guilt and new sentencing will occur.

Deferred adjudications are not expungable. However, most successful deferred adjudications are eligible for Motions of Non-Disclosure. Non-disclosure seals the records of the arrest and prosecution. Even though the records are sealed and not able to be seen by the public, these records are still accessible to law enforcement, hospitals, certain professional licensing agencies such as State Bar of Texas, Texas Department of Insurance, Texas Board of Nursing and others that govern the those providing mental or healthcare or handling money.

Deferred Disposition is only for Class C misdemeanors.  This disposition does not have a formal reporting probation requirement (meaning you do not have to go meet with a probation officer). With this disposition, you usually pay a smaller fine, may have to take a class and/or do community service. Then upon completion of the probation time-limit, the court will check your criminal background for new offenses, and if there are none, then the case is closed/dismissed. If you successfully complete the deferred disposition probation requirements, you are entitled to seek an expunction, which is much more thorough than the sealing of records available with deferred adjudications.

Additionally, some counties have what is referred to as Deferred Prosecution. This disposition is a type of "pre-trial diversion" that is available to first time criminal offenders for a limited number of offenses and results in a dismissal. If you enter into this agreement, the case is dismissed in exchange for a signed confession, court costs and completion of all the probation requirements/conditions. These requirements and conditions usually consist of a monthly supervision fee (some counties have sliding scales for indigent offenders) payment for and attending for any drug and alcohol counselling, anger management classes, required urinalysis or other programs ordered by the Court. If you do not meet the conditions, fail to fulfill all of the requirements by the deadlines or commit other criminal offenses, then your plea of guilt will be used against you in prosecution of the offense and new sentencing will occur. Upon successful completion of the terms of the agreement, you may apply for expunction.

If you find yourself or a loved-one facing criminal charges, you need an attorney that will fight for your rights, explain the charges against you, explain all of your options, and help you get the quickest and fairest disposition to your case as possible. Here at Chad Jones Law we strive to make sure our clients are fully informed throughout the entirety of the case so that together we can achieve the best outcome possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at: 979-595-5000 or (800) 645-6637 or email us to discuss your case.

 Written by: Associate Attorney Kevin Kornegay

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