The Texas DWI deferred adjudication program is a great option for people facing DWI charges. 

This particular legal option gives a person the opportunity to avoid criminal penalties such as jail time and massive fines. It also provides a person with a path towards dismissal and an order of non-disclosure.

However, there are many common misconceptions surrounding Texas DWI deferred adjudication. Though it’s a great option for many people, it may not be the best case scenario for everyone. 

To better understand why this is true, let’s break down Texas DWI deferred adjudication. 

What are the deferred adjudication rules in Texas?

  • You must qualify for Texas DWI deferred adjudication: When it comes to DWIs specifically, not everyone is eligible for deferred adjudication. If you have a prior DWI conviction on your record, you do not qualify. You can only qualify if this is your first DWI in Texas. You also do not qualify if you had a blood alcohol level of .15 or more, if you have a commercial license, or if someone was injured or killed as a result. And lastly, you do not qualify if you were involved in an accident and caused any damage to anything else but your own vehicle.
  • You must plead guilty in court: Many people assume that deferred adjudication in Texas means they get to skip court, as well as a guilty plea. However, this is not the case. With deferred adjudication, you and your lawyer must go in front of a judge (not a jury) and admit guilt. This is different from the pretrial diversion program in Texas for DWI since you are able to skip court.
  • You must follow a probationary period: This period is somewhat considered a trial run and could include drug testing, as well as involve an ignition interlock requirement and community service. If you pass the trial run, then you can avoid punishment (even though you admitted guilt).
  • You will face court if you do not meet the probationary requirements: Failure to meet requirements could include committing another crime, failing a drug test, or leaving the state. It’s important to note that if you do fail the trial run, you may face steeper penalties than you would have originally faced. If a not guilty verdict was possible at the beginning of this whole process, it is no longer possible after a failed deferred adjudication because you have already admitted guilt. You should heavily consider this facet of deferred adjudication before committing to the process.

Does a deferred adjudication show up on a background check in Texas? 

The biggest misconception associated with deferred adjudication in Texas is that the charges are automatically wiped from your record upon completing the program. This is not true.

Unlike pretrial diversion, completing deferred adjudication does not make you eligible for expunction — only nondisclosure. This means that your record is only partially (not completely) cleared of the charges. 

An order for non-disclosure will seal your record from public view but not from government agencies and law enforcement. It’s also important to keep in mind that a nondisclosure isn’t automatic. Your lawyer must petition the court for a DWI nondisclosure in Texas after your deferred adjudication is complete.

This order is incredibly important if you wish to avoid prejudices when applying for mortgages, rental properties, homes, and jobs.

Learn more about pretrial diversion vs. deferred adjudication in Texas.

Does deferred adjudication count as a conviction in Texas? 

If you successfully complete the deferred adjudication program, then it will not count as a conviction. The charges will be “deferred” — and upon completion, dismissed.

However, as mentioned previously, the charges will still show up on your record (which is why a nondisclosure order is crucial). And if for any reason you fail the probationary period, it will show up as a conviction.

This being said, if you find yourself facing another DWI in the future, it will show up as a second DWI charge (and you will face charges associated with a 2nd DWI).

Need help with deferred adjudication in Texas? Contact Thiessen Law Firm today. 

There are many nuances associated with deferred adjudication and pretrial diversion in Texas, and it’s important to work with a lawyer who has experience and skill in this particular legal area. 

At Thiessen Law Firm, we have over 100 not guilty verdicts, thousands of dismissals, and countless successful deferred adjudications on our record. When you work with us, we’ll work tirelessly to guarantee your best-case scenario. This means our top priority is a not guilty verdict — not just deferred adjudications and nondisclosure orders.

Call Thiessen Law Firm today at 713-893-5998 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about your options.

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.