Understanding Deferred Adjudication in Texas

What Is Deferred Adjudication in Texas? 

Deferred Adjudication comes from a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure whereby a person pleads guilty or no contest to an offense and there is no finding of guilt at the time of sentencing. Instead, the Court places that person on community supervision (probation) for a specified period, and if the community supervision is completed successfully, then the charge originally pleaded to is dismissed.

The catch to Deferred Adjudication is that if you are revoked or violate probation, you are then subject to the full range of punishment of the offense you plead originally. For example, a third-degree felony carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. As opposed to limiting your jail exposure on straight probation (not deferred adjudication), the trial judge could sentence you to the full 10.

Deferred Adjudication is appealing to many people accused of crimes because it allows them to control their destiny regarding whether they will get a criminal conviction.

Indeed, the prospect of a dismissal of charges and avoiding the collateral consequences of any criminal conviction appeals to many people. Forever, deferred adjudication was not available to people charged with DWI-related offenses. You could be charged with a second-degree felony assault and get deferred, or robbery, or manslaughter, but not a misdemeanor DWI.

Deferred Adjudication Available for Some Texas DWI Charges

As of September 1st, 2019, that changed. Kind of. There is now a deferred adjudication option in several DWI charges. DWI 1st, Boating While Intoxicated, DWI with Child Passenger, and Intoxication Assault, and Intoxication Manslaughter are all eligible for deferred adjudication if you qualify. However, it is a little different, and the benefits are limited. Some carve-outs do not exist in other types of cases.


To qualify, you must possess a clean criminal history. No prior DWI cases, and the blood alcohol level must be less than .15 at the time of driving. Should you accept the deferred adjudication, you can also expect to have the ignition interlock device during your term of community supervision. Like other deferreds, successful completion means your DWI will be dismissed, and you would be eligible for a Non-Disclosure (if you satisfy the other requirements for sealing your record). However, the government will always be able to see that you accepted the deferred and would be able to enhance any subsequent arrest based on that.

For example, even if you successfully complete the deferred adjudication on the initial case, if you were to be arrested for DWI again 8 years later, you will be charged with a DWI 2d, which carries more severe punishment, tougher bond conditions, and days in jail as a condition of community supervision.

There are many ways to resolve any DWI case, and deferred adjudication may be the best way for you. An experienced and exceptionally qualified DWI lawyer is the best way to make sure you receive the best outcome suited for your specific unique personal needs.

To get in touch about your situation, contact the firm online or at (512) 858-8611!

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