Houston Deferred Adjudication Attorney
The services of a skilled criminal defense attorney don’t end with the resolution of your case. If you have legal concerns while you are serving probation or deferred adjudication, please contact the Law Office of David A. Breston for assistance. The initial telephone consultation is free of charge.
What is Probation?
Probation is usually a sentencing option for anyone who has not been convicted of a felony in Texas or any other state. Even if you have a felony on your record, the judge may decide to place you on probation. Even if you have no prior felonies, probation is generally not offered if you have been charged in Harris County with a first degree felony such as forcible rape, aggravated robbery, or murder.
If you were found guilty or if your sentence was suspended, you may have been placed on court-ordered probation for a specified period of time. If you successfully fulfill the probation requirements, you will not be sent to jail or prison. Probation requirements typically include regularly reporting to a probation officer, and remaining drug free, performing community service for a specific number of hours, and paying fines and/or restitution.
What Happens When You Violate Probation in Texas?
If you are unsuccessful in completing the requirements of probation, your probation officer may file a motion to revoke your probation. If the motion is unsuccessful, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, as the judge may give you “jail therapy,” may extend your probation, or may even revoke your probation, sending you back to jail or prison. Even if it is not possible to get your probation reinstated, a private attorney is usually best able to obtain the least amount of jail time in your case. My law firm has been successful at saving many clients from going to prison when motions to revoke were filed against them.
Some courts will allow probations to file a motion for early termination, or modify the conditions of probation. These motions require complex legal arguments and are best handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you are having difficulty fulfilling the conditions of your probation or if a motion to revoke your probation has been filed, please contact a probation revocation lawyer at our law firm as soon as possible. We have had success getting probation reinstated and conditions of probation changed for our clients.
What is a Deferred Adjudication in Texas?
Deferred adjudication is a second chance to avoid a guilty finding and criminal sentence. If you have received a deferred adjudication, the judge decided there was enough evidence to find you guilty, but deferred the guilty finding while he places you on community supervision, i.e. probation.
If you successfully fulfill the conditions of your probation, you will not be sentenced to jail and there will be no guilty finding on your criminal record. But if you fail, the judge can sentence you to any term within the range of punishment for your crime. The law does not allow deferred adjudication for some crimes, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Deferred adjudication is generally a better deal than regular probation, because the court doesn’t classify the person as guilty if he or she finishes the term successfully.
Am I Eligible for Deferred Adjudication?
Most charges are eligible for deferred adjudication, should a judge agree to it. Any misdemeanor or felony is available, except for the following charges:
- Driving while intoxicated (or boating, flying, etc. while intoxicated)
- Intoxication assault
- Intoxication manslaughter
- Repeat drug offense in a drug-free zone
- Repeat sexual offense
Will the Charge Be Off My Record?
A common misconception about deferred adjudication is that after successful completion, the court will dismiss or remove the charge from a person’s record automatically. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. A person must file a petition for non-disclosure after successfully completing the deferred adjudication period. This will close the records to the public and select private parties.
Am I Eligible for an Order of Non-Disclosure?
A person who successfully finishes the deferred adjudication may seek an order of non-disclosure from the court unless it is for the following charges:
- Capital murder
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Injury to a child or an elderly or disabled person
- Abandoning or endangering a child
- Violations of protective orders
- Offenses that require sex offender registration
- Family violence charges
The serious nature of the above crimes makes deferred adjudication unlikely and perhaps impossible. If you are unsure about whether your charge would be on the above list, talk to one of our team members.
There are various waiting periods for different offenses before filing an order of non-disclosure, too. Felony-level charges must wait five years before filing for an order. Most misdemeanors have no waiting period, unless the charges were for one of the following:
- Unlawful restraint
- Sexual offense
- Assaultive offense
- Offense against family
- Disorderly conduct
- Weapons offense
If the court found you guilty of one of the above charges, deferred adjudication may be possible eventually. A person may not receive any criminal charges between the deferred adjudication and the filing for non-disclosure. This violates terms that make the person eligible for dismissal of his or her charges. Traffic offenses do not count in this scenario, however.
What is the Court Process for Order of Non-Disclosure?
The order for non-disclosure must go through a process, which, hopefully, ends with approval from a judge. The procedures for obtaining an order of non-disclosure is:
- A person files an order of non-disclosure with the court.
- The court clerk provides notice to the prosecutor, or the state of Texas, of the order.
- The state has 45 days to request a hearing on the filing.
- A judge may issue an order of non-disclosure.
Often, a judge will issue an order of non-disclosure if he or she finds the filer meets all the criteria and that the order is in the best interest of justice. Deferred adjudication in Texas is complex; talk to an attorney for help understanding whether this is a possibility for your case.
Using an attorney is especially important in deferred adjudication cases, as they are versed in the legal processes and will help you through your time of need.
Why Hire a Deferred Adjudication Attorney?
If you are in the Houston area and are hoping for deferred adjudication, discuss the prospect with an experienced attorney. At the Law Office of David A. Breston, we can help. Deferred adjudication is a unique form of judge-ordered community supervision, or probation, which the courts usually offer only to first-time offenders in the state. This process is only an option for those who choose to waive a jury trial, because only a judge can grant this type of probation.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Definitions & Resources
Monthly Community Supervision & Corrections Report (MCSCR) is for Community supervision data submitted to TDCJ’s Community Justice Assistance Division by the state’s community supervision departments.
Deferred Adjudication is a type of community supervision. If the conditions of supervision are met for the time period set by the court, not to exceed two years, no record of the crime will be made.
Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFPF) is a secure residential program, which provides substance abuse treatment and counseling to non-violent felony offenders whose substance abuse problem contributed significantly to their committing a crime. Upon completion of the program, the offenders are returned to community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision.
Treatment Alternative to Incarceration Program (TAIP) is a program that provides screening, assessment and referral services to offenders arrested/sentenced for a substance abuse related offense, or who have a history of substance abuse.
Restitution is repayment for having committed a crime. Restitution can be made to a specific victim in a dollar amount to repay for damages or can be made to society by working without pay for a non-profit or governmental agency.
Revocation is the act of removing an offender from community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision due to the offender violating the conditions of his or her supervision and/or committing a new crime.
Pre-Release Therapeutic Community (PRTC) comprises three components: educational/vocational, substance abuse and cognitive restructuring.
Presentence Investigation (PSI) is an investigation of an offender’s criminal history, family history, work history, and risks and needs, conducted by a community supervision officer. The court prior to sentencing considers the resulting Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSIR).
More: General information and FAQs about Community Supervision & the Harris County Corrections Department