Deferred Disposition vs. Deferred Adjudication in Texas

There’s a lot of confusion about the terms “deferred disposition” and “deferred adjudication” in Texas.

Deferred adjudication is a type of actual probation, for a Class B misdemeanor or higher charge, where the judge says (in legalese), “Based on your plea of No Contest or Guilty, I could find you guilty, but I’m not going to. I’m going to place you on probation, and if you jump through the hoops of probation, at the end of the case you will never be found guilty of the charge.”

To defer – to put off, or postpone. To adjudicate – in the criminal context it means to find you guilty. So when the judge places a defendant on deferred adjudication, he is postponing finding the person guilty, and will never find them guilty, if they successfully complete the terms of probation.

In Texas, that means a real, formal probation with a monthly visit to a probation officer, minimum community service hours, urinalysis for drugs and alcohol, fines, court costs and $62 per month probation fees.

Again, the major distinction here is that this is only for Class B and Class A misdemeanors, and felony charges in Texas. It’s not for Class C, that is, traffic ticket level offenses.

Deferred adjudications are not expungeable, but most are eligible for Motions of Non-Disclosure.

Deferred disposition is only for Class C charges, and is not a formal reporting probation. The theory is the same – that is, if you pay a (smaller) fine, usually take a class, and stay out of trouble, at the end of the deferral period you are not convicted of the offense. 

There is no probation officer, or monthly meeting. I suppose you could say that you are on your own probation, but that’s it. Some clerk will pull your file at the end of the term, check to see that monies are paid, certificates for classes are turned in, and run a criminal background check to see that you did indeed stay out of trouble. Then the case is dismissed.

For Class C Assaults, Theft, Public Intoxication, Minor in Possession and similar non-traffic offenses, this is the same as agreeing to take defensive driving, pay a small fine, and not pick up any more traffic tickets to get a speeding ticket dismissed.

In a successfully completed deferred disposition, you are specifically by statute entitled to seek an expunction, not just the less complete sealing of records.

Part of this confusion is perpetuated by Class C prosecutors, and even some Municipal Court judges, who continually refer to this process as “deferred adjudication”. In fact, the two are very different.

[See also, Deferred Prosecution Agreements.]

Trackbacks (1) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
http://blog.austindefense.com/admin/trackback/22517
Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer - April 8, 2008 12:39 AM
If you are the clerk at the 7/11 around the corner from my home or my office, then you probably know me. Sometimes that convenience store price premium is worth not fighting the lines at HEB. Bottom line? If you’re...
Comments (38) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Twila Compton - December 21, 2007 8:26 PM

My 18 year old son was arrested in June for a Public Intoxication of marijuana. He was in his friends car. His friend was charged with Pocession of marijuana and drug paraphenalia (which was a bong over 12") An attorney told us (which we did not hire) that he thought he could get him off the PI because he was in the back seat eating when he was arrested and it would be very hard to prove he was intoxicated and a danger to himself or someone else. The court date is not until August 18, 2008. My son will be at Texas A&M in his junior year geting his Aeronautical Engineering Degree. My son decided to go to talk to the Prosecuting attorney today so he could maybe get this behind him. The attorney told him that he could hire an attorney but he will loose because in the police report my son said that they smoked than went to get something to eat than came back to the park to play soccer. The attorney told him that he was a danger to himself by riding in a car with someone under the influence and that is all they have to prove that he was a danger to himself or someone else to up hold PI. Also if the jury found him not guilty they could then file a possession of drug paraphenalia and he will not get out of it because his finger prints were on the bong. He said the best thing would be to take deferrred disposition. It would be less expensive. Do we have to apply for the expunction or is it automatic if he completes his probation without incident? I would like to know if they can go back and file a more serious charge if he is found innocent of a PI? Do you think taking the deferred disposition is his best choice?

John - October 17, 2008 11:38 PM

Sir, I am facing a two year prison sentence, for indecency with a child. Does Deferred Disposition or Deferred Adjudication apply to me, I only touched the child for two seconds and then she wanted to touch me for a second, and then it was all over.

Davonna - December 23, 2008 2:46 PM

hey john, you are a child molester, you touched the child knowingly therefore u will have 10 years or more probation- good luck - you could be in prison

Renee - December 26, 2008 1:08 PM

Appoximately 2 1/2 months ago I received a speeding ticket, in which I took defensive driving to have dissmissed. In fact I turned in my certificate 3wks ago. The following week I was stopped again on the very same street as the 1st ticket and was given another speeding ticket! I guestion the validity of this, Due to the fact that I have been extra cautious since reciving the 1st. I have really been watching my speed, especially since I have to drive down the same Street every day-at appoxitmately the same time every day-7days a week. I looked at my speed when I spotted him sitting there and saw that my speed was not even 40mph, but he stopped me any way and said I was speeding at 45mph in 35.

Help! What are my choices in a case such as mine, I've been told and read so many different things. Do I request a Deffered Adjudication or a Deffered Dispostion (Even though I have taken the Defensive driving course w/in the last 12 months?)

p.s Needless to say I trying different and alternate routes that take much longer to try and avoid having to drive down this street anymore :-(

Sara - January 13, 2009 4:54 PM

Ok so here is my situation....
I want to become a police officer, but i got a ticket about 6 months back and was recently put on DEFERRED DISPOSITION. To become a police officer it says that you can not currently be on DEFERRED ADJUDICATION for any traffic violations. Can I still take the police test or do I have to wait till my deferred dispostion period is over?

giovani - January 28, 2009 5:53 PM

dont need any crooked cops if youve been in trouble you'll get into trouble again don't become a police officer

Jack - February 17, 2009 2:13 AM

To Giovani. If Speeding makes you a crooked cop. Then every cop in the United States is crooked.

Lorena - April 29, 2009 1:34 PM

I had a deffered adjudication and I was told that it was going to be cleared after I finished my probation. Well, 7 years after finishing my probation it still shows on my record. WHY?

Mary - June 9, 2009 6:04 AM

Lorena, the entire concept of deferred adjudication is a lie. It's on your record. If you want it off you have to get an attorney and go back to court for an order of non-disclosure, but it will still be visible to government agencies. Unless it is one of the felonies Legislature has deemed to exclude and if so, your stuck with it. It probably even shows up on your background check as a conviction. One group of 'ex-felons' are going so far as to sue the State of Texas to force them to honor the 'contract' we signed with the court. Some groups in other states a trying to pass a 'Ban the Box' movement. Until then....you were just an excellent mark for the DA's inflated conviction rate. Your best bet is to find the group in your state and get active.

Ken Cochran - June 10, 2009 10:45 AM

Sir,
My son who is now 35 years old wants to become a Police Officer in the state of Virginia.
When he was much younger and in the Army at Fort Hood he was arrested in Austin Texas for"poss C/S LSD He recieved " Deferred Adjudacation". It was completed in 4/10/02.
Is the any way to get this Completely Removed?
So that a Law enforcement check would not find it.
If so, what would it cost?

You advise and help is truely appreciated!

Ken Cochran
804-641-6118

LOL Kor - June 23, 2009 11:41 AM

@Renee: Kor is that you?

Pros - August 14, 2009 11:53 AM

Austin Municipal Court prosecutors know the difference. As do all of the Austin Municipal Court Judges.

It is common to drop the second word and just refer to something as "deferred" (for convenience). It is also common not to correct them every single time an attorney or defendant says adjudication (to not appear condescending), but I always made a point to at least specify that a DD did not involve any formal probation, that expunction is often a possibility, and that the only checking that would be performed was by a clerk at the end of the deferral period.

But thanks for the generic slam against class c prosecutors, Jamie.

Stephen - August 27, 2009 4:25 PM

in reply to jack every cop is crooked in this country how do you think they and their families always beat the rap on speeding and more serious crimes like the cops that beat rodney king originally did

Daniel - November 16, 2009 9:52 AM

I recently was issued a possession of paraphernalia charge in blanco county. The info I have looked up tends to say that deferred adjudication is commonly available with this charge. Do I need to apply for it, talk to the judge, or just respond NO CONTEST?

Tex - March 8, 2010 9:27 PM

I am applying for a job with the federal government. I had a deferred dispositon 2.5 years ago and completed it successfully and the charge was dismissed. Do I have to answers yes to "were you ever on probation?"

Gary Bryan - March 17, 2010 4:14 PM

On a job application do you have to answer yes to the following questions if you have received an order for non-disclosure.

a. Have you ever been convicted, or given probation or deferred adjudication in lieu of sentencing or pled no contest, for any offense other than a minor traffic violation?


It was my understanding that once the non disclosure order was provided you did not have to answer yes to any questions on an application referencing the case.

Joseph - April 13, 2010 6:00 PM

I received a ticket for driving 85 mph in a 70 mph. I'm not disputing the fact that I was speeding but I was driving 73mph. I know this because I had my car set on cruise control. It was very foggy and you could barely see. There was a white truck in front of me and a grey car on my right side. I was looking in my mirror every 1 to 2 minutes because I did not want a ticket. So when I saw the police officer come from over the hill behind me, I didn't even slow down because I was only going 3 miles over the speed limit. So he pulled up behind me and told me to pull over. When he got to the car I asked him what did he stop me for and he said doing 85 in a 70 zone. I started laughing and I think that's when he got mad. He gave me a ticket and he put on the ticket that I had a white car when my car is gold. I believed that he had clocked the white car but they got away so he stopped me. Should I take this one to court or just take deferred disposition?

jeff - June 11, 2010 3:21 PM

I am a lawyer myself Joseph and my advice to you is to find yourself a lawyer and challenge this ticket. A lawyer can get you out of paying this ticket. Good Luck!

Aaron - June 13, 2010 8:39 PM

I was recently arrested for a class B misdemeanor for "racing on a highway." I was wondering if I could use Deferred adjudication for this ticket? Also, would I need to get a attorney for this ticket? Also, how long do you think my deferred adjudication would last for? thanks for any help

Aaron - June 13, 2010 11:53 PM

Does Deferred adjudication mean you can not get another ticket at all during that period, or just not of that bad or worse? Also, does it only count in the county that you got the ticket it, or anywhere in the state?

J - June 22, 2010 11:50 AM

I have a clean driving record and just got a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt. If I just pay the fine, it will be on my record (which I don;t like). If I take the class, it will be removed, but I can't get another ticket for a year. If I do, I could be in worse shape since I can't take the class and get a ticket removed.

If I get another ticket, can I go on deferred disposition or should I just pay the seatbelt ticket and have it on my record for 3 years?

Thanks

B - June 25, 2010 3:21 PM

I received a speeding ticket and did deferred disposition, as per the clerk's suggestion. Before I could even begin driving school, I received another ticket.

I still completed driving school and will send the certificate to the clerk. My question is, am I screwed? Will they check if I've gotten any tickets, see that I have, and keep my ticket on the record? Worse, since they have you notarize a form that you have not gotten any tickets on probation, if I have, am I liable for perjury?

Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

traffic ticket & criminal defense - October 12, 2010 3:47 AM

Deferred Disposition vs. Deferred Adjudication in Texas good work post more this type information. really nice blogs

gracie - October 22, 2010 6:44 AM

I had a clear driving record until I was pulled over in colorado county. The officer told me it took him 8 miles to catch me. That may have been true since there was a fence barrier along the freeway and I was told I was pulled over for speeding. He said I was clocked going 92mph in a 70mph zone. I know this was not true and told him so and the reason it took him so long to "catch" me was due to the fence barrier. The officer gave me a yellow paper with my options and I would like to have the deferred disposition option but am told I still have to pay the fine. My question is why is that not listed on the instructions it only says the court will grant your ticket dismissed.No where on that option does it say anything about paying a fine.This is what I was told when I called the court and told them which option I wanted. What should I do?

gracie - October 22, 2010 6:45 AM

I had a clear driving record until I was pulled over in colorado county. The officer told me it took him 8 miles to catch me. That may have been true since there was a fence barrier along the freeway and I was told I was pulled over for speeding. He said I was clocked going 92mph in a 70mph zone. I know this was not true and told him so and the reason it took him so long to "catch" me was due to the fence barrier. The officer gave me a yellow paper with my options and I would like to have the deferred disposition option but am told I still have to pay the fine. My question is why is that not listed on the instructions it only says the court will grant your ticket dismissed.No where on that option does it say anything about paying a fine.This is what I was told when I called the court and told them which option I wanted. What should I do?

Tabby - November 3, 2010 11:01 PM

Speeding Ticket here in Sabinal TX. I was stopped for going 46 MPH on a 35. Honestly I didnt see the 35 speed limit sign.. I saw the 45, and Coincidentally I was stopped at the 45 speed limit outside the town going East on Hwy 90. Officer asked me where I was going, I said Dr. Apt in San Antonio, and he said so you were speeding because you have an appt. Damn me if I answer, Damn me if I dont. Total Racist I think but anyways, that happened last week. Today an officer came to me at work for service, and I happened to mention the ticket and he adviced me to CALL on or before the date, and ask for Deferred Adjudication, that they would put me on some sort of probation of a couple of months promising that I would not violate the traffic laws in the City or County and my ticket violation would disappear from my record after completion. So now my question is, the FINE is still to be paid? And if they offer Payment plans? anyone know from experience? Pls contact me at my email, Thanks! tabbycorales@gmail.com

Mike - December 10, 2010 4:35 PM

In 1986 I was arrested for theft, $750-$20000 in Arlington, Texas. My understanding at the time, as best I can recall now 24 years later, was that upon successful completion of 1 year of unsupervised probation, the case would be dismissed and I would have no conviction on my record, and no loss of civil rights. I recently looked-up my criminal record through the Texas DPS, and according to the report, the disposition was 312 (deferred). My question is 312 (deferred) the same as a conviction? I called the Tarrant County court, and according to the person I spoke with, the only disposition in their records is "PE" - probation expired. Would this 312 (deferred) disposition, without an entry of dismissed prevent me from truthfully answering "no" on any application for employment, or to purchase a firearm, a question of have I ever been convicted of a crime for which the judge could have imposed a sentence of more than 1 year?

I have been researching this issue as to whether 312 (deferred) is considered a conviction, or not. The answers I have found are inconclusive.

Mike - December 10, 2010 4:48 PM

I would like to add that below are the last 3 lines of my Texas DPS criminal record report:

COURT DISPOSITION312 ( DEFERRED )
COURT DISPOSITION DATE09/25/1986
COURT PROBATION1Y

I have seen record reports of others with 312 (Deferred) that indicate a "FINAL PLEADING". There is no such "Final Pleading" entry on my record. Does this mean the case was dismissed, and therefore no conviction, or with no "Final Pleading" entry, does this mean that the case is still technically unresolved.

Jess - January 19, 2011 5:07 PM

I was arrested and booked for a PI in May of 2008, and did deferred disposition for the misdemeanor. Is this going to show up on a background check for a teaching job? I don't want this on my record at all. The paperwork says the citation was dismissed since I complied fully with the terms of probabtion. I just didn't know if my arrest would show up.

Jennifer - April 19, 2011 11:25 PM

I was arrested on a warrant for theft by check $80. My court date is next week. I don't know what to expect much less what I should plead. I don't want this on my record but I know I won't have funds to continue with a lawyer later down the line. Help!!!

Douglas Parker - May 28, 2011 11:37 AM

My daughter was ticketed in Sugar land, Texas last year for theft less than $50 more than $20. She was charged with a Class C misdemeanor. She was placed on deferred disposition, paid a fine and took a class. She was released without any problems or arrests. Because it was deferred disposition, is she eligible for expunction or non disclosure?

Douglas Parker - May 28, 2011 11:41 AM

My daughter was ticketed in Sugar land, Texas last year for theft less than $50 more than $20. She was charged with a Class C misdemeanor. She was placed on deferred disposition, paid a fine and took a class. She was released without any problems or arrests. Because it was deferred disposition, is she eligible for expunction or non disclosure?

Jeremy - June 5, 2011 8:13 PM

I received a Pi in and was jailed in San Marcos. I was released in the morning, and then pleaded no contest and was given a deferred adjudication or disposition. I fulfilled all obligations of that. Is that still on my record somehow?

Marcus - September 8, 2011 1:02 AM

I recieved a citation for MIC a few weeks ago, and I am unsure of whether or not I can get Deferred Disposition. My Court date isn't for another month and a half, but I'd like to get things sorted out as soon as possible. Do I call the courthouse and request a deferred disposition, or is it something I have to request in person?

Jill - September 13, 2011 10:41 AM

my son has violated juvenile probation when he was 16 because he was an hour late for curfew now he's 23 and has agg robbery and robbery could he get deffered adjudication he's in crimnial court 176th judge shawna reagin and i hear she always give dffered adjudication

Avia - December 15, 2011 10:09 PM

I was charged with Assault w/ bodily injury class C misdemeanor. I was given a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and had to complete a 5 hour parenting class and complete an 8 hour assault class. However I am a single mom of two and couldn't afford the class payments. Now that im doing better I have the time and money for it but I was given 12 months to complete it all. Its now past the 12 months..
What should I do?
Do I continue with completing the classes and mail in m proof or contact travis county courthouse and see where to go from there?

cruz - December 11, 2012 8:07 PM

I got a ticket in december. i got defferred adj, but before my probation is over i got another ticket in another county but i was doing the speed limit. the officer told me the tires were not the original size. they might be the reason i went over. i was going 78 in a 75 but was clocked at 84 if i get it dismissed would i still have broken my probation in the other county?

Ray Garcia - January 11, 2013 12:39 AM

In 1993 I got a Class c assault and in 92 I got a disorderly conduct fighting also a class c. Would that keep me from getting or posseing a gun or chl.

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.







Remember personal info?
Send To A Friend Use this form to send this entry to a friend via email.