In certain types of criminal cases that involve more minor offenses, it might be possible for the defendant to try and avoid a conviction through a deferred disposition, or a suspended sentence. It is important for individuals who are facing criminal charges to be fully aware of how this process works, when the option might apply to them and what steps they need to take to prevent a conviction.
According to the City of Houston’s Municipal Courts, a deferred disposition requires an individual to plea “guilty” or “no contest” to his or her criminal charges, which then leads the court to deferring (or delaying) the step of actually finding the person guilty.
This recourse is available to defendants entering pleas for misdemeanor charges punishable only by fine and court fees, according to Texas law.
The defendant is then charged court costs, ordered to post bond and ordered to comply with certain probation conditions. Upon successfully completing the probation and complying with all conditions that were ordered by the court, the person who received a deferred disposition is then able to have his or her case dismissed—without a conviction! If the conditions are not met, however, the individual will be convicted and sentenced. It is important to be aware that a conviction can be very damaging to one’s life, as it can lead to a criminal record that will follow the defendant for years to come.
Texas’ Code of Criminal Procedure §45.051 outlines the state’s requirements for deferred dispositions. According to the code section, an individual who is having his or her sentence suspended will have a probation period that can last up to 180 days. In addition to the bond and court fees, probation requirements can also include payment of restitution to the victim, participating in professional counseling, participation in drug and alcohol education programs, completion of a driving safety course and various other conditions.
Each case is different, so probation requirements will not be the same for each case.
Deferred dispositions are often given in juvenile offense and traffic offense cases, though there are also many other kinds of cases where a suspended sentence can be granted. If you are facing a possible conviction for a minor crime, a criminal defense lawyer might be able to help you get your case dismissed through a deferred disposition. When you work with Jim Medley & Associates, P.C., our Houston criminal defense attorneys can help you determine if you qualify for this process. If so, we can help you fill out the appropriate forms and make a strong case to the judge as to why you should be granted a suspended sentence. Don’t wait until it is too late—contact us as soon as possible so we can begin helping you protect your future!