In criminal defense a common question is whether a deferred prosecution and a deferred adjudication mean the same or are different. Jurisdictions use different language for similar or even the same legal concepts. This can make legalese confusing for those new to the criminal justice system or the geography.
In Florida, a deferred prosecution is a contract between the State and a Defendant. The agreement will operate to postpone or defer the prosecution of the case. The Defendant typically will have to waive the right to a speedy trial and consent to notice of further proceedings. Usually, at the end of a deferred prosecution, the charge(s) are dismissed.
Adjudication can be defined as a formal decision by a judge. Therefore, deferring or withholding adjudication is determined by the judge. The judge can also defer or suspend a sentence. In a criminal case, a judge’s authority to adjudicate or withhold the adjudication comes after the Defendant has entered a plea of guilty or no contest or been found guilty by the jury.
The distinction between these legal terms and concepts can be important for employment, insurance and other rights well into the future. For example, in Florida sealing or expunging a criminal case requires that adjudication be withheld or that the case be dismissed.
Any criminal case is important, Defendants should be aware of their rights, how and when to use them. To hire a lawyer to guide through the process, click call or fill out the form.