Deferred Adjudication: Opportunity or Trap?
If you’ve been charged with a crime it is normal to worry about going to prison or ending up in jail. However, most people who have never been charged with a crime do not end up in prison. Instead, they are offered something called deferred adjudication. Yet, deferred adjudication is not always a good solution for many people. This post will explore what it means to be put on deferred adjudication in Bexar County, Texas.
What Does it Mean to Get Deferred Adjudication in Bexar County, Texas?
If you have been accused of a crime in Bexar County, Texas (and you have no criminal record) it is likely that your attorney has talked to you about resolving your case by taking deferred adjudication. In Bexar County, Texas, deferred is available to almost everyone who has been accused of a felony or a misdemeanor offense if the accused does not have a criminal record. But what does it mean? Deferred adjudication is a special kind of probation where if you do everything that you say you are going to do (follow the conditions that the Bexar County District Court or County Court Judge) the case gets dismissed. Easy right? Not so fast. Not everyone who is offered deferred should accept it, and there are some important risks that you need to be aware of before you accept a Bexar County deferred adjudication. You should know that prosecutors offer deferred to get rid of bad cases (cases they can’t prove) and also so that the State can supervise you, sometimes for as much as ten years. So, before you accept a Bexar County Deferred Adjudication you need to know a couple of things.
What Are the Bad Parts of Deferred Adjudication?
There are two things that are really bad about deferred adjudication. First, once you are on deferred, the arrest and criminal accusation can never completely come off of your record. As the law currently stands, a successful completion of deferred adjudication stays on your record for the rest of your life even though the case is dismissed. The second downside to deferred is that if you mess up you can get the maximum punishment. The rules of deferred (your officer will call them conditions) are very strict. They will likely require you to get drug tested, and you cannot drink alcohol for any reason. There are additional conditions that you have to follow and messing up on any of them can result in having a warrant issued for your arrest. When you are put on deferred adjudication you need to understand that this is absolutely your last opportunity to avoid a prison sentence.
What are the good parts?
You can avoid a criminal conviction. If the case against you is solid, taking deferred adjudication is almost always a good idea. If you are accused of a felony, becoming a convicted felon will hinder you for the rest of your life in many ways. Being on deferred will also hinder you but not as much. For instance, you will be able to say (if you accept and complete deferred adjudication) that you have not been convicted of any crime.
Are there any hidden dangers?
The hidden dangers of accepting deferred adjudication are that the judge sets the conditions of deferred. These conditions can include almost anything that the judge wants to do. It is nearly impossible for your attorney to negotiate on the front end what the judge will set as the conditions of deferred. The judge can, for instance, order you into custody treatment. The judge can send you to jail for up to six months. Your attorney, at your sentencing, will be given the opportunity to argue against these conditions, but once the judge makes a decision it is nearly impossible to get that decision changed (although you can file a motion to modify conditions of deferred).
What are some questions I should ask my attorney before accepting deferred?
- What conditions should I expect to have to follow?
- Should I expect a jail sanction?
- Does the State have enough evidence against me to prove the case?
- How often will I have to report?
- Will I be drug tested?
The decision to accept deferred adjudication or to take your case to trial is a big decision to make. Before you make your decision, you need to make sure all your questions have been answered. Our experienced attorneys are to help you build a winning strategy. Give us a call at (210) 229-8300 today!