What is the difference between an adjudication and a withholding adjudication?

When you have been found guilty of a crime, whether by plea or following a trial, the judge, in some circumstances, will have the option of either “adjudicating” you guilty or “withholding adjudication.”  Depending on the nature of the charge, this decision can have serious consequences.

One of the most important consequences this decision can have comes with a decision to adjudicate when the charge is a felony.  The adjudication is the thing which results in the loss of your civil rights, like your right to vote, serve on a jury, and possess a firearm.  If the judge decides to withhold adjudication on a felony, you would not lose any of those rights.

The decision to adjudicate or withhold is also important when the offense is drug or theft related.  An adjudication for a drug crime, like possession, sale or trafficking, or for grand theft where the item stolen was an automobile, will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for a period of one year.  Again, if the judge agrees to withhold adjudication, no such suspension will occur.

Finally, as the law is currently written, if the judge decides to adjudicate you for any crime, misdemeanor or felony, you would not be permitted to ever seal or expunge any criminal charge.  The legislature is revisiting this restriction, but nothing has changed yet.

In some circumstances, a finding of guilt will require an adjudication.  The most common crime which requires an adjudication is Driving Under the Influence.  This is also an issue with a felony that is a second-degree felony or higher.

In many cases, your criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor regarding the withholding adjudication.  If this is something with which you are concerned, contact Scott Berry Law at 561.370.7420.

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