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.