Deferred Adjudication Probation

The progress of events in a criminal trial (or plea agreement) is first the finding of guilt or innocence. If guilty[1], then a sentence is set according to the level of the charge. The sentence is a fine, jail or both. Depending on the citizen’s criminal history and other considerations, the jail, fine or both can be probated.

Probation or Community Supervision is the set-off of actual jail incarceration for a period of time which involves supervision visits, classes, community service acts, etc.

Deferred adjudication probation is the reverse of this process. Accordingly, the judge ‘makes a finding’ of guilt, but defers or sets off the actual finding of guilt (or conviction) and places the citizen on a period of probation. If the citizen successfully completes the probation, the charge is then dropped, closed, abandoned, and there is no official finding of guilt. But the arrest and probationary term are still reported on the citizen’s record. There is just no actual ‘conviction’.

However, if the citizen does not successfully complete the term of probation, there is an automatic finding of guilt and the judge will set the sentence, either of his/her own accord, or by an agreement between the prosecution and defense (that depends on the judge’s policy). Then, there will be an official criminal conviction. That conviction may then be probated, or not, but it will always remain a conviction for the offense.

Most importantly, deferred adjudication probation does have a catch. Many people believe that because there is no ‘conviction’, it is not reflected on their record. This is not true! Deferred will be shown on a citizen’s record for all to see. The only way to remedy this reflection is to file for a nondisclosure, which is discussed in this blog in another article. A nondisclosure will only remove the deferred from anyone, other than law enforcement agencies, researching the citizen’s history or background check.


[1] If a citizen if found Not Guilty by a jury trial, there is no conviction, and the arrest and charge can then be completely expunged. See: the page Expunction and NonDisclosure.

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