Deferred adjudication is a form of community supervision (like probation) that a judge may impose after a plea of guilty or no contest. A person who is placed on deferred adjudication is generally subject to terms and conditions including monthly reporting to a probation officer, random drug testing, and community service. Terms of deferred adjudication can be anywhere from six months (for class A and B misdemeanors) to ten years for felonies punishable by prison time.
The advantage that a deferred adjudication offers is that a person who successfully completes the term and is discharged by the court is eligible to have his or her record sealed. Different offenses carry different waiting periods for eligibility for sealing ranging from immediately upon discharge to five years after discharge. The mechanism through which a person seals a criminal history record is called petition for nondisclosure.
The disadvantage of a deferred adjudication is that a person who violates their terms and is adjudicated by the court faces the full range of punishment at the judge’s discretion. For this reason among others, it is advisable to consult with knowledgeable criminal defense attorney before accepting a plea offer of deferred adjudication.