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What to know about deferred adjudication in Texas

Is there a way in the state of Texas to avoid a criminal conviction and jail time? Under state law, it is possible for someone charged with a crime to seek a deferral of the normal sentencing and punishment that would accompany a guilty conviction. If you are the parent of a child facing criminal charges, you should know that there is the possibility under deferred adjudication that your child may seek lighter treatment from the court.

FindLaw explains deferred adjudication as a process where a defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (“no contest”). But the court will not judge the defendant as guilty, instead placing certain requirements that the defendant should fulfill. Successful completion of the court’s conditions means the defendant will not have a criminal conviction and shall avoid punishment. If the conditions are not met, the defendant will face jail time and a judgment from the court.

In the state of Texas, deferred adjudication is a provision that cannot be handed down by a jury. In order to receive deferred adjudication, both the defendant and the prosecutor in the case must agree not to pursue a jury trial. Instead, the question of deferred adjudication is in the hands of a judge. If the judge deems it appropriate, the defendant will be granted adjudication.

Texas law will exclude some individuals from deferred adjudication. Assaulting another person or committing manslaughter while intoxicated is one notable exception. A person also cannot be charged with operating a boat, driving a vehicle or flying a plane while intoxicated, or be accused of a repeat drug offense that is bolstered by a drug-free zone finding. A repeat sex offense, such as aggravated sexual assault or an indecent act with a child will also disqualify a person from consideration.

While not everyone will be accepted for deferred adjudication in Texas, there are many who are eligible. Ask your defense attorney about deferred adjudication and similar alternate forms of adjudicated treatment that may be available to you or a family member.