Deferred Adjudication & Job Applications

Question: 14 years ago I received a deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor.

Upon completion of my one year deferred adjudication, the case was disposed/dismissed. Because I did deferred adjudication, this means I do not have a conviction on my record. And, I'm in the process of submitting a non-disclosure of criminal records, however it has not been filed yet.

I am also in the process of completing a criminal background check for a future employer and I want to answer the questions truthfully to the question. They will be doing a background check for convictions (State or county).

There are 2 questions I must answer:

1. Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? To which I feel I can truthfully say "No" since I was not convicted.

2. Have you ever served time, been on probation, or currently serving a deferred adjudication? To which I also believe I can answer "No" since I did not serve time, I was not on probation as that term is defined, and I am not currently on a deferred adjudication sentence.

Because I'm worried about my background check results, I've run 3 separate checks, all which came back with nothing for convictions or anything else. I've had a police officer friend run my information through the county system where I was arrested and held, and they have no history of me being processed in the system.

Please advise if my answers to the above 2 questions are accurate.  Obviously, if the question "Have you ever been arrested" was asked, I'd have to answer "Yes". 

I don't know if I should voluntarily offer the information that I was on deferred adjudication 14 years ago, since that was not specifically asked.  They may very well find an arrest record, but that was not asked and so I'm confused.

Answer: Some of this doesn’t actually lend itself to an easy answer, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway.

For Question #1, “Have you ever been convicted of a Felony or Misdemeanor?” the answer is easy: No. Successful completion of deferred adjudication in Texas means you have not been convicted.

It’s Question #2 that becomes problematic. The part of the question that reads “been on probation, or currently serving a deferred adjudication” may imply that the employer thinks deferred adjudication is not probation. You yourself have characterized it as not probation “as that term is defined”

I think this is inaccurate – defendants on deferred probation in Texas are indeed covered by Article 42.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – the community supervision statute. (We used to formally call it probation; now it’s “community supervision”.)

And you checked in with a probation officer once a month, the same way that folks convicted and put on probation do. You were subject to random UA’s, and assigned a minimum of 24 hours of community service. You were on probation, as that term is defined. You just weren’t convicted.

The worst case scenario here is that you answer the question in the way that you believe is honest; but the prospective employer finds out about the deferred, and thinks you were intentionally lying.

Perhaps you can call the Human Resources department, if it’s a big enough company to have one, and anonymously ask how someone in your situation should answer the question.

Finally, I’m glad to see that you are applying for the Motion for Non-Disclosure, because this is the long term solution for this problem. Eventually, when that is granted, non-governmental employers won’t have access to see that you were arrested, and you won’t have to deal with this tricky situation anymore.

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Anonymous - January 30, 2008 8:59 AM

I have a question that requires some assistance. I recently graduated with a BBS in Political Science/Criminal Justice; however, while I was attending college I was placed on Deferred Adjudication for Credit/Debit Card Abuse and this blows any and all chances doing something in Law enforcement and if I decide to go political then my past will come back to haunt me. When can I get this off my record or sealed or expunged or even this Non Disclosure thing. What would be my best and fastest option available to me so I can get my job search going again and be hired soon?

Anonymous - September 12, 2009 5:47 PM

In regard to misdemeanors, deferred adjudication,and employmemnt agencies...I recently sent my resume to an employment agency and later received a call stating that they had a possible job referral that I might be interested in. She began to ask the usual questions, however, when she got to the "have you ever been been on probation, or currently serving a deferred adjudication?" I responded honestly by saying yes to which she replied that they do not assist individuals with a record because their clients do not hire people with records.
How is this legal? I find it odd that every employer client that they have will not consider someone with a misdemeanor on their record. My story is similar to the original post other than I am currently serving probation for assault whereas their incident was 14 years ago.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts on this.

Richard Baughman - December 5, 2009 5:34 PM

In 1987 in Andrews, Texas I was arrested for possession of marijuana. This was considered a felony at the time. I pled guilty and my attorney negociated a deal whereby I received a deferred adjudication, paid a $1500.00 fine, and served two years of probation. I was told by my attorney that upon completion of the probationary period my record would be wiped clean. I specifically requested the deferred adjudication because I am a petroleum geologist and would have trouble getting a job with a felony record. Just recently I had a $220,000/year job lined up with a Malasian oil & gas company, until they found the felony record on the internet. You cannot get a permit to work in their country with a felony record. I now realize that I could go through the process of getting a Motion of Dismissal but am concerned that my felony record would still be on the internet. I have no other criminal history. Is there anything I can do? I remember the Andrews Court also telling me that my record would be wiped clean but do not know if that is in writing. I appreciate your response.

Donna T. - February 19, 2010 4:56 PM

Does a person have to have an attorney to request this Defferred Adjudication from a Judge (I presume a Judge) and would it have to have been requested at the time the case was being heard or could it be submitted after the ruling was made. I was totally unware of this possibility as the attorney I had did not even suggest this avenue. I have spent to last 15 years developing a career in which I am required to drive a City Vechicle. One single occurance with on over medication of prescription drugs for depression after a domestic violence & rape epidsode has cost me my carrer and my meaning of providing for my family. What suggestions would you have for me. I am a single mother with three daughters to support and NEED to find real answers. Thank You

hernan cortes - April 14, 2011 7:34 PM

im trying to work for the city i have a deferred adjudication will that disqualify

aqua - April 19, 2013 9:52 AM

i dnt have a question just more of an expression. i plead no contest toa possession of marijuana which was a class a misdemeanor.... i was given the option of deferred adjudication which i am currently doing....i am really pissed because i have not been able to get a job even though im in the process od getting this dismiss also meaning the case is still open so i don't see how or why this could b held against me....is it legal? i can't evenv support my kids or finish paying my community supervision....i don't know what to do!!!!

Thomas Johnson - May 15, 2013 1:25 AM

I served a 5yr probation sentence for possession of a controlled substance. I was release for early dismissal, and haven't been in any trouble since. This was my first offense and received the probation when I was nineteen. I am 35 and have applied for numerous position and have been turned away. I work two jobs whenever given the opportunity but most are high turnover jobs with very little future. I pray every day that some day I will have a family. The future looks so cloudy because I can barely take care of myself. I have a job now but I live in my car, sleeping in Walmart parking lots and showering at local gyms. If you are using this page to do research on deferred adjudication procedure never accept deferred adjudication as a sentence. The court officials lie to you, the feeling is like living hell on earth with no one willing to give you a chance.

schrodinger - January 24, 2014 7:49 PM

To all-- check to see if you are eligible for an expunction (erasure) or non-disclosure order (sealing from public search) of your dismissed cases, even if they were deferred adjudication cases. After a certain period of time-- 5 to 10 years for certain felonies and 2 years for most misdemeanors, I believe-- it may be possible to have the records sealed. In this case, they SHOULD NOT appear on a background check. I say SHOULD NOT, because some services may have old information, or it can take time to get the information through the system. Note that SOME offenses cannot be expunged or eligible for non-disclosure, such as sex offenses, certain violent crimes and such (check the Code for the list). But there are MANY offenses that can be 'sealed' if the case was dismissed on deferred adjudication. It IS possible to submit the petition yourself, and you can even try to apply as an indigent (poor person) if you meet the assets and means test. That means you can do it without fee, and no attorney is needed. Some attorneys will review your case for a 'free first consult' to help you to learn if you are likely to be eligible, and a few good lawyers will even help you to draw up the petition so that you can file it on your own (pro se). Another good idea is to go on line to the jurisdiction where your case occurred (Dallas County, for instance) and print out your own record. If you are later told in person or on the phone that a bg check shows the old deferred adjudication, you can present this to an employer to show that the case is no longer visible. You can also honestly answer those application questions, before the matter ever comes up, as 'No, I have not been convicted; No, there was no finding of guilt... etc.' Also... not ALL deferred adjudication community supervision involves reporting to a 'supervision officer'. For many cases, especially Class C cases, a judge can offer 'unsupervised supervision', which simply means that if you have no further offenses for a period of time, you have satisfied that part of your conditions. This is NOT a 'sentence', nor is any requirement for community service. A sentence is issued AFTER a conviction. Anything that is required prior to a conviction are 'requirements or conditions for deferral', and are not a sentence, according to state law and legal opinion (note that I am NOT a lawyer, and if I was a lawyer, I am not YOUR lawyer). ALSO... be aware that employers for the most part are NOT to use background information and criminal history of misdemeanors for more than 7 years. There IS a statute of limitations. I know this to be true as I had a misdemeanor possession of MJ from 1995, 20 years ago, and was repeatedly told that it is too old. I got deferred for that case as well. Both of my cases are in the non-disclosure process now, and I hope to have them removed from view very soon.

abiff salcedo - July 26, 2014 7:15 PM

Hello Im applying for a job I was arrested and took the deferred adjudication and was put on 2 yr probatoon which im now ccompleting my arrest was for bribery. .. so now that im appling and its asking me if ive ever been convicted which I put no since I wasnt but the second one asked if ive ever had or in the process of a deferred adjudication or sealed case I dont know what to answer but on small print it says for Ca resident if you have any of these dont have to disclose but I know for a fact its going to come up please help how should I answer and if im asked about it what should I say or how do I put it to were I dont make myself not hire able thanks

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