There are second chances in criminal law and a withhold of adjudication is an example of one. The purpose of withholding adjudication of guilt is rehabilitative; to avoid the damning consequences of a conviction, including the loss of civil rights.
You may be eligible for this form of adjudication and should therefore contact an attorney. If you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with a crime you should understand this option which may save your record from the blemish of a criminal conviction.
A withhold of adjudication generally refers to an advantage available to some defendants in Florida criminal cases. A withhold of adjudication means “a final judgment of Court in a Criminal matter.” It is widely understood that each case which comes to Court requires a final judgment to be disposed of. Withholding adjudication saves the defendant from being referred to as convicted of the crime charged. In Florida, the judge is permitted to withhold adjudication which means that no conviction is entered into the record. This does not mean that the court record is removed, or that the charge is dismissed, but rather that the court did not convict the person of the crime.
When does the Court Withhold Adjudication?
Florida Statute §948.01 allows the judge discretionary power to withhold adjudication in certain criminal cases. You may or may not be eligible for such relief as several factors are considered by the court. The primary question which the court considers is whether the defendant has committed the crime for the first time or if the defendant is likely to commit such offense again. This does not mean that the Court cannot withhold adjudication if the defendant has committed a crime for the second time. The Court has the power to withhold, but courts are reluctant to grant a withhold of adjudication when the person is a repeat offender.
When can the court not withhold adjudication?
The Florida Statue gives the court the discretionary power to withhold adjudication, however, there are certain limitations where the court does not have the power to grant such relief. Such situations include:
Where the defendant has committed a First-Degree Felony; (the most serious offenses)
Where the defendant has committed a Second-Degree Felony, unless the state attorney agrees for the withhold of adjudication or the court reasonably believes that appropriate order would be to withhold adjudication.
Where the defendant has already obtained prior withholds of adjudication.
Fleeing or attempting to elude
Driving under the influence
Advantages of a withhold of adjudication
There are numerous advantages if adjudication if withheld. Some of the advantages are:
Disclosure in Job Applications: On almost every job application, there is a portion which asks the question, have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense? If adjudication of guilt is withheld, then you can respond to such question in negative, unless the question states have you ever been arrested or charged for any offense?
Cancellation of licences: In Florida, the licences (driving and professional licence) of a convicted felon can be cancelled by the authorities.
Right to Vote: A person who is a convicted felon in Florida is deprived of the right to vote in any election held in the state.
Own a Firearm: In the case where an adjudication is withheld, the defendant can still own and purchase a firearm. Carrying a firearm by a convict is a second-degree felony offense under the Florida Statute.
Some convictions (adjudications of guilt) have collateral consequences like driver's license suspensions, denial of public benefits, and enhancements for future offenses. Many of these collateral consequences are avoided by a withhold of adjudication. There are too many statutes and too many collateral consequences to list here, but the general rule of thumb is that if you can't get the offense dropped or dismissed and you don't want to go to trial, a withhold of adjudication may be your best option if available.
While the withholding of adjudication in a criminal case can be of tremendous benefit, there are several limitations that you absolutely must be aware of. Hopefully, this post has explained the basics. If you have additional questions, please contact me. I am available anytime, day or night, to help you with your criminal case.