Herreth Law
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Is Deferred Adjudication Always Better Than Straight Probation?

During the period of probation, these two sentencing alternatives are the same. Both usually mean attending meetings with a probation officer, performing community service, attending drug education or other classes, and paying fines. Both usually have the same set of generic conditions, such as supporting dependents, avoiding bad habits, and staying away from disreputable people.

However, there's a very big difference after the period of probation expires. In deferred adjudication cases, the defendant has no conviction record and is also eligible for record sealing. Straight probation has neither of those advantages, in most cases.

Deferred Adjudication, Straight Probation, and Revocation Proceedings

Probation revocation is kind of like a divorce. No one ever thinks it will happen to them, but it is quite common. So, it's best to at least be prepared to deal with the possibility.

When a Tarrant County prosecutor recommends probation, it's always a specified jail or prison term that's suspended for a certain number of months or years. For example, misdemeanor assault probation might be 60/6 (sixty days in jail suspended for six months). If the judge revokes the defendant's probation, the confinement period is capped at sixty days.

Deferred is different. The period of probation might be six months. But at a revocation proceeding, the judge can sentence the defendant to any confinement term up to the maximum. This concern is especially acute in serious felony cases that have long periods of probation and long maximum prison sentences.

So, the big question here is whether the defendant is a good candidate for probation. Most probation officers are somewhat lenient when it comes to things like paying money or staying out late. But, they are very strict when it comes to more serious infractions, such as new offenses or failure to report. If you do not think you can go a few months or years without any serious run-ins with your probation officer, deferred adjudication may not be worth the risk, especially in a felony.

Deferred and Citizenship

For most purposes, deferred adjudication does not count as a conviction. But immigration proceedings do not count as "most purposes." ICE plays by its own rules. Even if you are not convicted of the offense, the matter may still count against you for deportation reasons. It's very important to review this matter thoroughly with your attorney. You can be upfront about your immigration status, as your lawyer is sworn to confidentiality.

This rule is especially a concern in felonies. In misdemeanors, this problem does not come up as often, unless the misdemeanor is a crime of moral turpitude.

Deferred adjudication is usually, but not always, a good option. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available. 

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