Avoiding Conviction – Withhold of Adjudication
Talk to an Experienced St. Petersburg / Clearwater Lawyer About Withheld Adjudication
What Does “Adjudication Withheld” or “Withhold of Adjudication” Mean in Florida?
Definition of Withhold of Adjudication: A unique sentencing option that is available to judges in many criminal cases arising out of Pinellas County. It is intended to give first-time offenders and those with a minimal prior criminal history a second chance by avoiding a formal conviction. In a criminal case, the judge, pursuant to Florida Statute 948.01, can order you to serve a a term of probation without formally convicting you of a criminal offense. If you abide by the terms of probation, your sentence is complete and you can truthfully state that you were never convicted of the charge. Obtaining a Withhold of Adjudication may further allow you to seal your criminal record. In order to obtain a withhold of adjudication, your lawyer must persuade the judge to conclude, pursuant to F.S. 948.01(2) that:
- You are not likely to engage in a course of criminal conduct again; and
- The ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that you suffer a conviction.
Do I Qualify For A Withhold of Adjudication?
First time offenders on both felony and misdemeanor charges often qualify for withholds of adjudication. But, even some multiple offenders may be eligible. Judges have broad power to grant a withhold of adjudication to people, despite their prior record. You should consult with an experienced St. Petersburg / Clearwater criminal defense lawyer to find out if your case qualifies for this sentencing option. The Benefits of Receiving an Adjudication Withheld? Although a withhold of adjudication is not the same as having the charge dismissed, it does mean that a formal adjudication of guilt is not imposed and you are therefore not convicted. You can thereafter accurately state that you have not been convicted of a criminal offense and can escape the consequences associated with a conviction. For example:
- Avoiding a formal conviction could greatly benefit your future employment or educational endeavors. Receiving a withholding of adjudication means that you will be able to truthfully tell future employers or educational institutions that you have never been convicted of a criminal offense.
- Unlike a formal conviction for a felony or a crime of untruthfulness and dishonesty, your credibility cannot be impeached in court, if you receive a withhold of adjudication.
- In many cases, a withhold will prevent you from having your driver’s license suspended or revoked.
- A withhold of adjudication preserves your right to vote and own, use, or possess a firearm.
- Through a withhold you avoid becoming a convicted felon and elude the stigma of a criminal conviction.
- If you receive a withhold of adjudication, you may qualify to have your criminal records sealed or expunged.
Limitations on the Court’s Authority to Grant a Withhold of Adjudication
The Florida Legislature has preclude the use of a withhold of adjudication in connection with DUI offenses. The legislature has also limited the court’s discretion to impose a withhold for a number of other criminal offenses. Judges are specifically precluded from imposing a withhold of adjudication on all capital, life, or first degree felonies. While a judge may, without fanfare, withhold adjudication on a third degree felony, the court may only impose a withhold of adjudication on a second degree felony, if the judge makes special written findings, pursuant to Florida Statute 921.0026, or the State agrees, in writing, to the withhold. When you meet with a lawyer in our office, we will discuss whether your charge is eligible for adjudication to be withheld.
How We Can Help
We can provide the prosecutor and judge with mitigating facts to portray you and your case in the most positive light. It is critical to have a plan in place for obtaining a withhold of adjudication before going to court. We invite you to meet with us to discuss the facts of your case and to develop a strategy that is focused on achieving an outcome that avoids a formal conviction.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (727) 578-0303