Deferred Adjudication Agreement: An Overview

A deferred adjudication agreement is a legal agreement entered into between an accused person and the court, in which the accused person agrees to plead guilty or no contest to a criminal charge and, in exchange, the court defers finding the defendant guilty. Essentially, it is an alternative to traditional sentencing in which a defendant is either found guilty or not guilty of a crime.

How Does Deferred Adjudication Work?

Under a deferred adjudication agreement, the accused person will often agree to certain conditions, such as completing community service, paying restitution, attending counseling, or taking other measures to address the underlying issue that led to the criminal charge. If the accused person complies with these conditions, the court will dismiss the charge without a conviction.

However, if the accused person violates the terms of the agreement, the court can revoke the deferred adjudication and proceed with sentencing. In some cases, the original plea of guilty or no contest may also be used against the accused person in subsequent proceedings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Deferred Adjudication

One of the primary advantages of deferred adjudication is that it gives defendants the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction, which can have a significant impact on their future employment and other opportunities. Additionally, by requiring defendants to complete certain conditions, deferred adjudication can help address the underlying issues that led to the criminal charge in the first place.

However, deferred adjudication is not without its drawbacks. For one, it is up to the discretion of the court whether to offer deferred adjudication, so some defendants may not be eligible. Additionally, defendants who violate the terms of their agreement can face stricter penalties than they would have if they had been found guilty initially.

Finally, although deferred adjudication may allow defendants to avoid a criminal conviction, it does not necessarily erase the charge from their record. Instead, the charge may remain on their record as a pending charge. This can still negatively impact a person’s life, especially if potential employers or others are able to access these records.


In summary, a deferred adjudication agreement is a legal agreement between an accused person and the court that allows the accused person to avoid a criminal conviction by completing certain conditions, such as community service or counseling. While it can be a useful alternative to traditional sentencing, it is not without its drawbacks and is not available to all defendants. If you are facing criminal charges and are interested in learning more about deferred adjudication, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.