Question: What is the Difference between Deferred Adjudication and Deferred Disposition?
Answer: Although Deferred Adjudication and Deferred Disposition are often incorrectly used interchangeable, they are quite different and each have very distinct benefits and drawbacks.
Deferred adjudication is a sentencing alternative to an outright pleading of 'guilty' that can allow a defendant to avoid a conviction. Typically the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendre (no contest) in open court, where the plea is heard by the court, but not entered into the official court record. Instead, Deferred Adjudication allows the judge to postpone or defer any finding of guilt for a set period of time. During that period the defendant will be placed under community supervision, which is essentially texas probation. At the end of the set period, often six months or one to two years, and if the defendant has successfully completed the community supervision, the judge will enter no finding of guilt, and the defendant will have avoided any conviction in the case by having the case dismissed.
While that sounds great, Texas Legislature has caught up with the Court's workings. Most Texas Codes now have added "Deferred Adjudication" language to the already existing "Conviction" for most statutes and laws. Therefore, almost always a Deferred Adjudication is treated the same as a Conviction, aside from one main difference: Successfully Deferred Adjudications can be sealed to the public via a Motion for Non-Disclosure.
Conversely, Deferred Disposition, also known as Deferred Prosecution, is essentially the same setup as an adjudication, except that the defendant does not announce a plea of guilty or no contest in open court. Instead, the defendant is given a set of goals to meet during a short period of time. If no new arrest follow, and the defendant meets the pre-set goals, the case is dismissed by the prosecutors.
Deferred Disposition has a great advantage over Deferred Adjudication; a case dismissed via Deferred Disposition or Deferred Prosecution may be expunged. Expunction is where a persons criminal record and arrest is not only sealed from the public, but erased entirely, it's records destroyed. This is the best route to avoid a Crime of Moral Turpitude from a Theft related offense.