Difference Between Probation and Deferred Adjudication

What Is The Difference Between Probation and Deferred Adjudication?

Both Probation and Deferred Adjudication are typical options for defendants in order for them to avoid going to jail or prison. These options substitute jail time with what is known as community supervision.

Once a defendant enters a plea of guilty or is convicted, the court then determines the severity of the crime and assesses punishment, which may include jail time on top of any fines or additional conditions. However, in the interest of justice, the court may allow you to suspend or probate your sentence and remain under community supervision along with specific conditions in lieu of jail time. On the other hand, with Deferred Adjudication, there is no conviction. Essentially the court defers or postpones the adjudication of your case pending the completion of community supervision and whatever additional conditions are set. Between the two, the main difference will be that probation occurs post-conviction of a crime whereas deferred adjudication occurs pre-conviction. It is an important distinction because if there is no conviction, the defendant may have an opportunity to file for an expungement or nondisclosure.

Once the defendant accepts probation or deferred adjudication in their case, violation of their supervision conditions has different effects as well. Typically, when one receives probation, they are sentenced to a jail sentence to be probated by a length of probation. If probation is violated, then that person may have to serve out the jail sentence that was originally ordered by the court. Whereas with deferred adjudication, if one violates the terms of this, the prosecution of the original case restarts. This may cause more worry because, if convicted, the court may not be as lenient in punishment because the defendant has already violated supervision conditions. On the other hand, if the defendant is completing all the terms of supervision and is going above and beyond with what they need to do, it is possible for the court to terminate supervision early. When it comes to probation, Texas law requires a defendant to complete at least half of the term before considering early termination. However, with deferred, because the court has not issued a sentence, the court may terminate the supervision at any time up to their discretion.

Lastly, one of the main concerns of many defendants is removing an unwanted charge from their record. Unfortunately, with probation, you have already been convicted and been sentenced to a length of jail time, however, it was probated through community supervision. This means that completing probation is the equivalent of completing your jail sentence. However, deferred adjudication allows a defendant to later hide or completely remove charges from your criminal record because no conviction occurred. It is important to point out that for the purposes of immigration, federal laws consider deferred adjudication as a conviction. But depending on the charge/crime, the defendant may qualify for either an Order of Nondisclosure or an Order for Expunction.

If you need to discuss which option is better for you, probation or deferred adjudication, contact our criminal defense lawyer today.