When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, they are required to appear before the Court and enter a plea to the charges. In many instances, depending on the type of charges, a defendant makes the decision to enter a plea in exchange for a reduction in the charges or other favorable treatment. The way this usually works is that by agreeing to enter a plea to what’s been filed against you, you enter a term of probation and the final adjudication on your case is put off (or withheld) until the probationary term expires. This is an attractive option for many criminal defendants, because it allows them to remain out of jail while resolving their case. However, there are some important things to know about agreeing to a withholding of adjudication, because it might be that the consequences are not what you expect. Knowing what you are agreeing to and the possible outcome will put you in the best position to make a decision about what type of defense strategy you want for your case.
Withholding of adjudication is most often offered to defendants that fit the following parameters:
- Little or no prior criminal history or record.
- The charges are misdemeanor charges.
- The defendant does not pose a flight risk, meaning he or she will show back up to Court at the end of the probationary term.
Agreeing to have a final determination made on your case put off until some future date does mean you have to comply with certain terms until that time. For DUI’s and other traffic related offenses it is common to have to perform community service or attend driving school, you also cannot have any more tickets while on probation, and you will have to pay the fines associated with your case. You will not lose certain rights, such as the right to vote or to apply for certain licenses (such as a wildlife or firearm license) and in most cases you will be able maintain at least a limited right to drive. This all changes if the case against you is filed as a felony (including a felony DUI) though, so special thought must be given to whether withholding adjudication is right for you. We can help by walking you through the possible outcomes, and advising you of the consequences of the agreement.
For help with defending a criminal charge, call our office to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. We help people charged with all sorts of crimes in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Call today to schedule an appointment.