Approximately one-quarter of the American population, about 80 million people, have some sort of a criminal record. If you are one of them, you may have experienced trouble landing a good job, difficulty enrolling in college, or exclusion for a period of time from certain aspects of society like voting and serving on a jury.
If you are not one of the millions of Americans who have a criminal record, you understandably want to keep your record clean. Deferred adjudication may be an option to help you accomplish this goal if you do find yourself charged with certain offenses. Before you agree to deferred adjudication, though, it is important you understand the risks and rewards of deferred adjudication.
Deferred Adjudication in a Nutshell
In a traditional criminal prosecution, you are charged with an offense and the prosecution seeks to prove that you did commit the offense with which you are charged. If you admit to committing the crime, or you are found guilty by a judge or jury, then a record of that conviction is made on your criminal record. This record can be accessed by those who have a need to know if you have been convicted of a crime in the past.
A deferred adjudication is a sort of supervised program that, if successfully completed, can keep a conviction off of your record. It begins with you entering a plea of guilty or no contest to the charges filed against you. However, the court does not adjudicate you (that is, does not find you guilty) at that moment. Instead, the court defers adjudicating you until a later time.
If you successfully complete the terms of your supervision, the case against you is dismissed without the court ever finding you guilty of the charges. Conversely, if you do not complete your supervision successfully, you can be brought back to court. At that time, the court can find you guilty and you would be convicted of the crime.
You should keep in mind that if you take your case to trial and lose, you no longer have the option of entering into a deferred adjudication.
A deferred adjudication is reported on your criminal record, but it is not considered a conviction. If you want to keep even the deferred adjudication off of your record, there is a separate process for doing so. You can apply to have the information concerning your deferred adjudication sealed so that the public cannot see it.
Is Deferred Adjudication Right for You?
In some cases, a deferred adjudication is an appropriate way to resolve your case and minimize the consequences of your charges. In other situations, though, you may have a viable defense and should challenge the charge. Knowing which path to take is not always clear, so contact the Law Office of Kerrisa Chelkowski to discuss your options.
You can reach us by telephone at (210) 228-9393, or contact us online to request a consultation. When you retain our services, we will conduct an in-depth investigation into your charges so that we can advise you on how best to confront your criminal charges.