Will a Deferred Adjudication Show Up On My Records?

Deferred adjudication is a legal process where a defendant pleads guilty to a charge, but the judge defers rendering a verdict and instead places the defendant on community supervision (probation). If the defendant successfully completes the probation, the charge may be dismissed12.

General rule: Will A Deferred Adjudication Show Up on my Records?

Yes, a deferred adjudication will generally show up on your records. However, the specifics can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense12.

Deferred Adjudication in Texas

In Texas, for example, many people have misconceptions about deferred adjudication probation. The most common misconception is that the offense is erased from your record if you successfully complete the deferred probation period. This belief is incorrect1.

No Automatic Expunction After Deferred Adjudication in Texas

Deferred adjudication in Texas does not imply a sentence, and thus, the defendant escapes the present and future effects of a conviction, such as job loss, suspension of driving license, or exclusion from public assistance programs1. However, deferred adjudication in Texas does not make one eligible for automatic expungement of records1. The defendant is still charged in public records, though he is not found guilty in the court. So, his records will show charges without any mention of the conviction1.

A defendant, who succeeds in getting a deferred adjudication ruling, requires to file for non-disclosure of his records once the waiting period is over1. This seals any record mentioning charges against him and effectively bars private entities from accessing them1.

Deferred Adjudication Vs Straight Probation in Texas

In Texas, probation is known as community supervision. It is of two types: deferred adjudication and regular or straight probation2. Deferred adjudication is granted without a formal conviction. The offender pleads guilty and got a “test period.” The conviction is deferred and finally dismissed2. Any violation leads to conviction and announcement of the punishment2. But, in regular or straight probation, there is conviction following a jury trial or plea2. The defendant has to serve community supervision as part of the sentence2.

Reporting or Disclosing a Deferred Adjudication

Technically, deferred adjudications are not considered as convictions and therefore will not show up as such on your record3. However, most employers will run a criminal background check on applicants before offering them a job3. In general, you should expect a deferred adjudication to appear on your background check report4. This outcome is especially likely if you entered a “guilty” plea4.

While deferred adjudication can be a beneficial alternative to a conviction, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t automatically erase or seal your record. Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense, a deferred adjudication can still show up on your records and may be visible in background checks. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional to fully understand the implications of deferred adjudication in your specific situation.

Exceptions to the General Rule: Will Deferred Adjudication Show Up on My Records?

While the general rule is that a deferred adjudication will show up on your records, there are exceptions to this rule. Here are five exceptions:

1. Federal Law: The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates how consumer reporting agencies can report and use your information. Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies cannot report records of arrest that from date of entry, predates the report by more than seven years1. However, if the person being screened is interviewing for a job earning more than $75,000 annually, non-convictions may appear on a background check. This is because high-paying jobs typically require an escalated level of trust and responsibility, leading employers to look deeper into a job applicant’s background1.

2. Applicable State Laws

Many states have legislation to limit and regulate what background check companies can reveal about individuals and job applicants. However, not all states or local jurisdictions have legislation to prevent non-convictions, like deferred adjudication, from showing up. Applicants should check their specific state’s laws to see if non-convictions are reported to potential employers1.

3. Expungement

Some states expunge deferred adjudication after a set time, such as 5 years. This removes it from background checks2. Expungement is a legal process that allows you to have all public records of a prior criminal conviction cleared and your court file sealed. It is as if the conviction never occurred.

4. Non-disclosure

Texas allows deferred adjudication to become non-disclosable after successful probation completion2. But many exceptions apply. Non-disclosure is a legal process that limits the accessibility of criminal records. It restricts the public’s access to certain criminal records.

5. Automatic Expunction and Sealing3

Some states, but not all, automatically expunge and seal the records of defendants who successfully complete deferred adjudication3. In these cases, background checks by private employers, landlords, or nosy neighbors won’t reveal that a defendant plead guilty and successfully completed deferred adjudication3.

Each of these exceptions has its own set of rules and requirements, and the specifics can vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional to fully understand the implications of these exceptions in your specific situation.

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FRREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What is Deferred Adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is a type of plea deal where a defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charges against them. In exchange for this plea, and for the defendant meeting certain requirements set by the court, they may be able to avoid a formal conviction on their record. This means that while the charges will still appear on their record, there will be no formal conviction associated with it1. This can be beneficial for individuals who are first-time offenders or those who have committed minor offenses1.

2. How Does Deferred Adjudication Differ from Probation?

While probation and deferred adjudication may seem similar, there are key differences between the two2. Probation is part of your sentencing that includes terms such as not leaving your state, checking in with a probation officer every week, attending certain classes, and doing all of this for a predetermined time, usually one or three years. Probation remains on your permanent record, so employers and potential landlords will be able to see it when they conduct background checks2. On the other hand, deferred adjudication comes with the option of being removed from your criminal records.

3. Can Deferred Adjudication be Expunged from My Record?

Yes, in some states, deferred adjudication can be expunged from your record3. Expungement is a legal process that allows you to have all public records of a prior criminal conviction cleared and your court file sealed. However, the specifics can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense.

4. Will Deferred Adjudication Show Up on a Background Check?

Yes, a deferred adjudication will generally show up on your records1. However, the specifics can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense1. For instance, if a record is “sealed,” or closed to the general public, this does not mean that law enforcement cannot see it. It may also be viewable in certain situations, such as if the person tries to take a job with the military or a governmental agency.

5. What are the Conditions of Deferred Adjudication?

The conditions of deferred adjudication can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense1. Generally, the defendant must meet certain requirements set by the court, such as completing a probationary period, attending certain classes, or paying fines. If the defendant successfully meets these conditions, the charges may be dismissed.

 

Last updated on: April 11, 2024

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Chiamaka Merit Nwanosike is a criminal defense and family lawyer who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2022. She is the visionary founder of Save The Just, a legal initiative dedicated to defending the rights of innocent individuals who have been unjustly accused or wrongfully imprisoned. She believes that time is most precious gift you can give to anyone and persons who unjustly jailed are made to waste the precious gift of time. She is committed to see that this height of injustice subsidizes and a better system is sustained not only in Nigeria but all over the world.

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