Deferred Adjudication

Deferred Adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a form of plea deal available in various jurisdictions, where a defendant pleads "guilty" or "No Contest" to criminal charges in exchange for meeting certain requirements laid out by the court within an allotted period of time also ordered by the court. Upon completion of the requirements, which may include probation, treatment, community service, or some form of community supervision, the defendant may avoid a formal conviction on their record or have their case dismissed.[1] In some cases, an order of non-disclosure can be obtained, and sometimes a record can be expunged.


United States


In Maryland, deferred adjudication is called "Probation Before Judgment" or "PBJ" for short. The conditions of this principle are set down in Title §6–220 of the state's Criminal Procedure article.[2] This law enables a judge to defer entering a judgment (that is, delay the entry of a "guilty" verdict) if the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere in writing, so long as certain conditions are met. Because the judgment is not entered as "guilty," a PBJ does not legally count as a conviction for a crime, and therefore the defendant is spared some hardships of having a criminal record, e.g. for purposes of job applications he or she does not have to disclose it as a conviction, though a full criminal background check will still reveal the case.

The defendant, however, is still placed on probation and can be compelled to pay a monetary fine or other restitution, enroll in a drug rehabilitation program, work community service hours, and/or less frequently, sentenced to imprisonment or alternative confinement. If the defendant carries out their sentence and behaves within the conditions of their probation (i.e. commits no further crimes), they become eligible for expungement 3 years after the judgment or when their probation ends, whichever is later (in some cases they can file early if they can show "good cause" to a judge). Expungement is not automatically requested; the defendant is responsible for filing for it at court once their time is up.[3]

Controversy and ethics

Anyone offered Deferred Adjudication in exchange for a guilty plea should first consult their attorney regarding the exact consequences of doing so. In all jurisdictions, the case itself that resulted in the Deferred Adjudication remains in the record permanently, though what effect this has and how the record can be discovered or disclosed varies. For example, the record always remains visible to law enforcement and some high-level government background checks, but some states allow for the record to be rendered inaccessible to the public or private-sector background checks.

In some states such as Texas, Deferred Adjudication is not treated as a criminal conviction as a matter of law, however there is no easy way to remove the record of the case from one's background. This creates difficulties with private entities performing background checks such as employers and apartment complexes, as they can see the case, charge and its outcome, and often simply treat it the same as though it were a conviction for purposes of their review.

Some who have taken Deferred Adjudication have been dismayed later in finding that, contrary to what they are told in court, their state legislature does not allow for their record to be cleared, and they are forever deemed a convicted criminal in the eyes of the anyone looking at their record. Interestingly, because no conviction was finalized, even the Governor is unable to grant a full Pardon to remove this criminal state as could be done with an actual criminal conviction.

Currently, there are several organizations that are protesting the way Deferred Adjudication has been offered and the alleged trickery of prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys in getting defendants to accept Deferred Adjudication and the offenses for which prosecutors offer Deferred Adjudication.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Deferred sentence — Criminal procedure Criminal trials and convictions …   Wikipedia

  • Deferred prosecution — A deferred prosecution agreement is a voluntary alternative to adjudication in which a prosecutor agrees to grant amnesty in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfill certain requirements. A case of corporate fraud, for instance, might be… …   Wikipedia

  • adjudication — noun /ˌæd.dʒu.dɪˈkeɪ.ʃən/ a) The act of adjudicating, of reaching a judgement. [Mr. C.] says he confessed to avoid a lengthier sentence after his original attorney told him that the prosecutor claimed DNA evidence conclusively identified him as… …   Wiktionary

  • Expungement — In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which the subject of a prior criminal investigation or proceeding seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed or destroyed, thereby restoring the… …   Wikipedia

  • Wilmer, Texas — Infobox Settlement official name = City of Wilmer, Texas other name = native name = nickname = settlement type = City motto = imagesize = image caption = flag size = image seal size = image shield = shield size = image blank emblem = blank emblem …   Wikipedia

  • Amarillo Slim — infobox poker player firstname=Amarillo Slim lastname=Preston nickname=Amarillo Slim caption=Amarillo Slim at the 1974 WSOP. hometown=Amarillo, Texas wsop bracelet count=4 wsop money finishes=10 wsop main event best finish rank=Winner wsop main… …   Wikipedia

  • Gun laws in the United States (by state) — U.S. Firearms Legal Topics Assault weapons ban ATF Bureau Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act Concealed carry in the U.S. Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban …   Wikipedia

  • North Carolina v. Alford — Supreme Court of the United States Argued November 17, 1969 Reargued October …   Wikipedia

  • Priscilla Slade — Priscilla Dean Slade was president of Texas Southern University (TSU) from October 27, 1999, until June 2006. Education She holds a doctor of philosophy degree in accountancy from The University of Texas at Austin, a master s degree from Jackson… …   Wikipedia

  • Ramonce Taylor — Infobox NFL player Color=Orange fontcolor=white Name=Ramonce Taylor Caption= DateOfBirth=birth date and age|1985|9|11 Birthplace=flagicon|USA Temple, Texas DateOfDeath= Deathplace= Height ft=5 Height in=11 Weight lbs=195 Position=RB College=Texas …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”