Deferred Adjudication in texas

The Definitive Guide

Deferred Adjudication in Texas

I wrote this guide and will be supplementing it to be the most comprehensive guide to deferred adjudication in Texas.

In this new guide you’ll learn what deferred adjudication is AND how it can affect your case, your life after court, and your ability to clear your criminal record.

Let’s dive right in:

What is deferred adjudication?

When dealing with criminal charges in Texas, many people think cases result in either guilty or not guilty (i.e. a conviction or acquittal/dismissal). What most people don’t consider is that many cases wind up somewhere in between guilty and innocent and can eventually lead to a dismissal. That’s where the Texas deferred adjudication statute comes in.

Deferred adjudication is a form of plea bargain offered in some cases that allows you to avoid a trial and possible conviction. It is often referred to as community supervision or probation. However, the leniency of deferred adjudication/community supervision/probation usually comes with conditions in most (but not all) cases:

Condition #1: Plead guilty or no contest to the charges.

In a regular case, pleading “guilty” would result in you being convicted of the crime. This could result in hefty fines, jail or probation time, and a permanent criminal record. However, if you are granted deferred adjudication, the Court will defer (postpone or hold off on) a finding of guilt and give you a chance to get the case dismissed.

Condition #2: Trial waiver

Deferred adjudication typically requires you to waive your right to a jury trial. The idea behind this is that you can’t have two bites at the apple. If the court and prosecutor are willing to give you a second chance, you cannot accept their offer and then still try to get acquitted with a trial.

Condition #3: Additional conditions determined by the court

Texas law on deferred adjudication doesn’t define specific requirements for defendants. The requirements and conditions are determined by the judge on a case by case basis. The below examples do not cover every scenario but are typically seen in Texas criminal cases.

Example 1: Probationary period

It’s common for the court to require you to avoid being convicted of additional offenses during a probation period of the Judge’s choosing. This can be as little as one day and as long as several years.

Example 2: Treatment programs

In cases involving specific offenses like alcohol, drugs, or violence, the court may require you to attend and successfully complete an educational program such as drug education, alcohol awareness, or anger management. Some judges require single day courses while others require ongoing treatment.

Example 3: Community service

Some judges require defendants to work for their deferred adjudication by volunteering at a local food bank, animal shelter, or church.

Example 4: Payment of restitution

The court may require you to pay restitution to a party involved in your case or to make a donation to a particular charity. In some cases, judges will require you to pay court costs and no more.

What happens if you violate deferred adjudication terms?

Deferred adjudication is probation agreement you make with the prosecutor and the court. If you violate the terms of your agreement, the District Attorney can ask the judge to revoke your probation and put you in jail. If the judge follows that recommendation, you could face any punishment allowed under Texas law for the charge you are facing. 

Example: Say Donny is put on 12 months deferred adjudication for a drug charge that is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Nine months into his term, he fails a mandatory drug test. At the District Attorneys request, the judge can hold a hearing in which he or she revokes Donny’s deferred adjudication and sentences him to jail time and/or a hefty fine.

Is deferred adjudication a conviction in Texas?

No! Deferred adjudication is not a conviction in Texas. If you successfully complete the terms required by the Court, your case should be dismissed, and you will not be convicted of the underlying offense.

How can I get deferred adjudication in Texas?

As mentioned above, deferred adjudication is an agreement made between a defendant, a prosecutor for the State, and the court. Anyone can be granted deferred adjudication in Texas and it largely depends on the specific facts of your case. A person charged with a first offense is more like to receive this type of plea offer that someone with a long criminal record.

Will a deferred adjudication show up on a background check?

While successful completion of deferred adjudication will result in the charge being dismissed, it will not remove the arrest from your criminal record or background checks.

Can I get a job after a deferred adjudication?

This is highly dependent on the employer. Some jobs require a squeaky-clean background with no convictions or arrests. Other employers don’t even check applicant’s backgrounds.

Certain state licensing boards may consider charges dismissed through deferred adjudication when deciding whether to grant a professional license. This applies to doctors, lawyers, nurses, cosmetologists, elections, and many more occupations.

Does deferred adjudication affect gun rights in Texas?

In some cases, even a successful completion of deferred adjudication can disqualify a person from owning or acquiring a gun or license to carry. In less severe cases, it may result in you having to complete a waiting period before filing for a license to carry a firearm.

Can I get a deferred adjudication charge expunged or sealed?

While most deferred cases that result in are not eligible for expungement, many times they can be sealed. Whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor, certain conditions must be met and waiting periods may apply before you’re eligible to seal your record. Check out our Definitive Guide to Orders of Nondisclosure in Texas.


So that’s it for my Texas Deferred Adjudication Guide.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What did you find helpful from this post?

Do you have questions about clearing your criminal record?

Maybe you need help determining if you’re eligible to clear your record.

Either way, get in touch and let me know how I can help.

Article Written By:

Eric Ramos


nondisclosure lawyer for deferred adjudication

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