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Texas criminal defense: What is deferred adjudication?

Jail is not the answer in every criminal case; the courts in Texas know this. Certain offenders would be served better by other program offerings. Deferred adjudication is one such program that, under the right circumstances, one's criminal defense attorney may be able to request.

What is deferred adjudication? DEJ is a rehabilitative program rather than one that pushes punishment. Its goal is to help people become better versions of themselves and show the court that they can change. Those who complete their programs successfully may have their criminal charges fully dismissed.

With deferred adjudication, one must first plead guilty. This does not mean that a conviction will be forever on one's record; it is just required so that conditions can be set and a probation period can begin. During that time, the defendant will have to meet certain conditions set by the court. Those who fail to complete their programs will be sent back to court for judgment and sentencing.

Deferred adjudication is often used in cases involving drug and domestic crimes. It is also often reserved for first-time offenders. Those who qualify for DEJ will be placed in their programs anywhere from 12 to 36 months. This can be a long time, but worth it compared to the alternative.

While the state of Texas is trying to use DEJ and other alternative sentencing methods more often in order to help offenders and keep jail populations down, not all cases are automatically considered for such programs. With the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, and under the right circumstances, one may be able to push for this type of program in order to avoid conviction. One's legal counsel will be able to view the details of the case and provide more information about whether this is really an option.

Source: FindLaw, "Deferred Adjudication / Pretrial Diversion", Accessed on July 18, 2017

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