A deferred adjudication (sometimes called a “deferred adjudification”) is one of the most common methods of resolving a traffic ticket. Texas traffic tickets can be resolved in a number of different ways, but this article explores the ins and outs of a deferred disposition.
WHAT IS A DEFERRED ADJUDICATION?
A deferred, in the traffic ticket context, is a simple agreement with the court. You agree to plea guilty or no contest to a particular offense (i.e. speeding, running a stop sign, running a red light, etc.). In exchange, the court agrees to defer its finding of guilt for a period of time to allow you to complete certain terms set by the court.
If you complete the terms by the set date, the Court will dismiss the case against you. If you fail to comply with the terms, the court will enter your plea of guilty or no contest, find you guilty, and the case will go on your record as a conviction.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON TERMS OF A DEFERRED?
So what are the terms Courts usually set out for you when you agree to a deferred adjudication? It usually depends on the type of violation involved.
For example, if you are simply charged with speeding, the Court may only require that you pay a Deferred Disposition Fee and receive no new traffic tickets for a period of time (usually 90 days).
If you are charged with no insurance, the Court may require that you maintain insurance in your name during the duration of your deferred agreement. If you were charged with a license violation, the Court might require that you obtain and/or maintain a license during your deferred period.
The bottom line is that the Court will usually require a fee, that you receive no new citations, and maybe some other terms depending on your violation. If you pay your fee on time, receive no new citations, and complete the other terms, your case WILL be dismissed.
However, if you don’t pay your fine, if you get a ticket leaving the courthouse parking lot, or if you don’t do some other thing the court has asked you to do, your case will go on your record as a conviction.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The benefits of a deferred disposition are that you can keep violations off your record. Traffic violations can impact you in quite a few different ways (READ THIS BLOG POST TO FIND OUT HOW). Keeping a citation off your record without a trial can be the least expensive, least time consuming way to resolve your case.
Often times the court costs for a deferred can be reduced and the terms negotiated. It’s always in your best interest to have an attorney who is familiar with the court and prosecutor handle your citation to determine how best to negotiate the deferred disposition.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES?
The downsides of a deferred disposition is that it typically requires you to plead guilty or no contest. This plea can come back to bite you if you falter in some way in completing the courts requirements. Because you have already plead guilty or no contest, the Court simply takes that plea, enters it, finds you guilty and records the conviction.
The bad part about this is that you don’t have any control over whether you receive a citation or not. Keep in mind, you a innocent until proven guilty. Anyone can be charged with anything unjustly. However, if you receive a citation during your deferred period, often regardless of the merits of that case, it can forfeit your deferred disposition.
A deferred adjudication is a powerful tool to help people resolve their tickets ina fast, cheap efficient manner, but there is the potential for serious consequences. You need to make sure you have legal representation who is familiar with the pros and cons of these types of agreements and can negotiate your case to your advantage. It doesn’t matter if your case is in the municipal court or the supreme court, you need a lawyer to give you the best advice and achieve the best results in your case.