Question: What is the Difference between Deferred Adjudication and Deferred Disposition?
Answer: Although Deferred Adjudication and Deferred Disposition are often incorrectly used interchangeable, they are quite different and each have very distinct benefits and drawbacks.
Deferred adjudication is a sentencing and probation alternative to an outright pleading of 'guilty' that can allow a defendant to avoid a final conviction. Typically the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendre (no contest) in open court, where the plea is heard by the court, but not entered into the official court record.
Instead, Deferred Adjudication allows the judge to postpone or defer a finding of guilt for a set period of time. During that period the defendant will be placed under community supervision, which is texas probation. At the end of the set period, and if the defendant has successfully completed the community supervision, the judge will set aside a finding of guilt, and discharge the defendant, dismissing the case. The defendant will have avoided a conviction in the case by having the case dismissed.
While that sounds great, Texas Legislature has caught up with the Court's workings. Most Texas Codes now have added "Deferred Adjudication" language to the already existing "Conviction" for most statutes and laws. Therefore, often times a Deferred Adjudication is treated the same as a Conviction, aside from one main difference: Successfully Deferred Adjudications can be sealed to the public via a Motion for Non-Disclosure.
Conversely, Deferred Disposition, is only available for Class C offenses. It is essentially the same setup as an adjudication, except that the defendant is not required to be on a formal probation. . Instead, the defendant is given a set of goals to meet during a short period of time. If the defendant meets the pre-set goals, the case is dismissed by the prosecutors.
Deferred Disposition has a great advantage over Deferred Adjudication; a case dismissed via Deferred Disposition may be expunged.
Expunction is where a person's criminal record and arrest is not only sealed from the public, but erased entirely, it's records destroyed. This is the best route to avoid a Crime of Moral Turpitude from a Theft related offense.
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