Deferred Adjudication & Probation
Many Texas criminal prosecutions end without the defendant serving any jail time or even being formally convicted. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a case, a defendant may receive a deferred adjudication or probation. Having an experienced Denton County criminal defense attorney by your side can dramatically improve your chances of attaining one of these outcomes.
Probation is the popular term for what Texas law calls “community supervision.” Chapter 42A of the Texas Penal Code spells out how community supervision works. Basically, when a defendant is convicted of a crime–either following a trial or after entering a plea of “guilty” or “no contest”–the judge has the option of sentencing the defendant to community supervision.
Community supervision allows the defendant to remain free under certain conditions specified by the judge. The actual term of community supervision is typically between 2 and 7 years depending on the offense, although the judge has the discretion to extend probation up to 10 years. A misdemeanor probation cannot exceed 2 years unless certain circumstances arise. If the defendant violates any of the conditions, such as being convicted of another crime, the district attorney may ask the court to end community supervision and order the defendant to serve prison time.
The judge also has the discretion to require the defendant serve some jail time as a condition of community supervision. Under the Penal Code, this jail time may not exceed 30 days for a misdemeanor or 180 days for a felony.
While similar to regular community supervision, deferred adjudication differs in one key aspect: the defendant is not immediately found guilty of a crime. Instead, the court requires the defendant to complete a term of community supervision, which may be up to 2 years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies. At the end of this probation period, assuming the defendant complies with all of the conditions, the judge will dismiss the original criminal charge.
This does not, however, erase the record of the arrest or trial. It simply means that the defendant has not been convicted of a crime for purposes of state law. But if the defendant successfully completes deferred adjudication, he or she may later petition the court for an order of nondisclosure. If granted, this order prevents most employers and non-governmental third parties from learning about the original charge or the deferred adjudication.
While community supervision is certainly preferable to jail or prison, it is not without legal risks. Texas district attorneys and judges require strict compliance with all probation terms, and even a seemingly minor error in judgment can land a defendant back in court and facing several years in prison. This is why you need to work with an experienced Denton, Texas, deferred adjudication and probation attorney before agreeing to any type of community supervision.
Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, represents people throughout Denton County as well as Collin, Tarrant, Wise and Cooke Counties who have been charged with crimes ranging from DUI/DWI and drug possession to more violent crimes. If you are facing the possibility of prison or probation and need immediate legal assistance, call us today at (940) 222-2488, or email us to schedule a free consultation.