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  • FAQ - Deferred Adjudication

    Note: The information in this section is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice.

    What are "minor traffic violations"?

    Minor traffic violations are those offenses not subject to a jail sentence. Types of “minor traffic violations” include speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, illegal parking, failure to stop, driving with an expired or invalid driver license that has not been suspended or revoked, and disobeying traffic lights signs or signals.

    Examples of violations of law not considered “minor traffic violations” are: driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), driving while license is suspended (DWLS), failure to appear (FTA), reckless driving, open container, and assault with a motor vehicle. These types of violations must be reported on your application.

    Are deferred adjudication records public?

    Yes. Although there is a common misconception that deferred adjudication records are removed from a defendant's criminal history upon successful conclusion of the community supervision (probation) period, the law does not provide for automatic expunction of deferred adjudication records.

    Accordingly, unless there is a court order directing otherwise, records of a prosecution resulting in a deferred adjudication are publicly available in the District Clerk's records and the state- wide Computerized Criminal History System database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

    Can deferred adjudication records be made non-public by request?

    Yes, in some instances. There are two ways that deferred adjudication community supervision records can be made non-public:

    1. Class C deferred adjudications - By filing an expunction under Article 45.051(e), Code of Criminal Procedure (if the Class C deferred adjudication was imposed in justice court or municipal court); or by filing an expunction under Article 55.01(a)(2), Code of Criminal Procedure (if the Class C deferred adjudication was imposed in county or district court). Expunction is NOT available for deferred adjudication sentences for Class B, Class A, or felony offenses.
    2. Petition for nondisclosure - Under Section 411.081(d), Government Code, a court can prohibit criminal agencies from disclosing to the public criminal history record information related to certain offenses for which the offender was placed on deferred adjudication. there are many offenses, however, for which this procedure is unavailable. Moreover, a defendant may be disqualified if he commits an offense after the deferred adjudication has been completed and before filing the petition.

    If I accept deferred adjudication, will it show up on my criminal record?

    The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 42.12) states that successfully completed deferred adjudication is not "deemed a conviction for the purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law for conviction of an offense." Though, even if you successfully complete your deferred adjudication and the court ultimately "dismisses" the pending criminal charge(s), there are two issues of which you need to be aware.

    First, the original arrest record and the record of the court's action will be publicly available at the courthouse. The only way to make them nonpublic is to seek an "expunction" or petition the court for an "order of nondisclosure." Expunction is only available for some Class C misdemeanors, and some Class C offenses do not permit expunction until a period of five years has passed. And if you were charged with a Class B, Class A, or felony offense, expunction is not available at all. The only way to potentially remove these more serious charges from your record is to petition the court for an "order of nondisclosure." These are granted less frequently than expunctions because of the more serious nature of the offense. Like an expunction, an order of nondisclosure basically prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing your criminal history or information related to the offense(s) for which you elected deferred adjudication. Some offenses, however, are ineligible for an order of nondisclosure.

    Second, even though there has been no conviction or finding of guilt, if your record has not been expunged or ordered for nondisclosure, you may find yourself in a tough situation with potential future employers. Specifically, for every employment application that asks "have you ever been convicted of a crime or entered a plea of guilty or plead no contest to anything other than a minor traffic violation" (or something similar), you may be required to disclose this information.