Florida Law and Withholding Adjudication

Part of why it is so important to have a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney on your side is that they may know about plea options that most people don’t know about. In other words, they may be able to ask the prosecutor for a plea deal that can help a defendant avoid some of the most harmful consequences of a conviction. Asking the judge to withhold adjudication is one of these potential options.

Withholding Adjudication

Florida law has a statute that allows judges to withhold adjudication in some circumstances. When adjudication is withheld, the defendant will usually have some kind of penalty, but since it is not a conviction it will not be on their record. The penalties vary but frequently include some kind of diversion program, counseling, probation, and/or community service hours. Of course the defendant needs to complete all of the requirements imposed by the court or else they will be convicted.

The main benefit of a withholding of adjudication is that the defendant will still have a clean record if this is their first offense. This can be a huge benefit when looking for employment, as many employers will ask applicants whether they have been convicted of a crime. If your adjudication has been withheld, you can honestly answer “no.” However, applicants should read the question closely because sometimes potential employers will ask instead whether applicants have been arrested, which defendant would then have to answer “yes” even if the conviction was withheld.

Conditions for Withholding of Adjudication

Obviously not all crimes qualify for withholding, while others may be withheld but the offense will still appear on your record. Typically, withholdings are granted only when it is a defendant’s first offense. While DUIs can be withheld, they will still appear on your record. The most serious felonies – capital, life, and first degree – also cannot be withheld. Second degree felony convictions can only be withheld if certain conditions are met.

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal recently heard a case that addressed the statute that governs when adjudications can be withheld. In that case, the defendant was charged with aggravated assault, which is a third-degree felony. He asked the court to withhold the adjudication. However, the defendant had already been granted withholdings for two third degree felonies in a case more than 20 years old. The court here held that the statute did not allow them to grant the defendant a withholding in this case.

The statute that addressed withholdings does not allow the court to grant a withholding for a third degree felony if the defendant has two or more withholdings for felonies that did not arise from the same events as the current offense. The defense here argued that since the two prior withholdings came from the same series of events that they should only be counted as one. The court disagreed. Using the plain language of the statute they found that the statute prohibits them from granting another withholding even when the prior two withholdings are from the same events.

Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Today!

Experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys may be aware of ways to help dispose of your charges in a way that limits the consequences to your life. The attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm can help you to understand all of your potential options. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with our attorneys about your case today.

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