What Does Withhold of Adjudication Mean?
By Jonathan Blecher on September 4, 2018
You’re probably aware of the traditional consequences of a criminal conviction – fines and imprisonment, but you may not realize some of the collateral consequences of a conviction, such as losing the right to vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office. A conviction can lead to other consequences as well.
Convictions typically affect housing, employment, insurance, college scholarships, and professional licenses. It can even affect your right to bear arms. In fact, many types of professional licenses can be denied or revoked if the license holder is convicted of a crime, especially if the crime could be connected to the person’s job. For instance, if a nurse is convicted of drug possession, it could kill their career.
Unfortunately, we all make mistakes. But sometimes, a momentary lapse in judgment can lead to a lifetime of consequence. If the Average Joe breaks the law; for example, because he drank a bottle of beer at the beach, or because he got involved in a bar fight, his one-time mistake can haunt him for life. Or, if the Average Jane shoplifts a dress or is caught smoking a joint in a park, lifetime consequences could result.
Withhold of Adjudication in Florida
So, what is the normally law-abiding citizen to do if they do something out of the ordinary and break the law? For starters, they should contact my firm so I can see if I can prevent charges from being filed in the first place. If not, we should look at the options, including seeking a withhold of adjudication of guilt from the Court.
If a judge agrees to withhold of adjudication, the defendant may have to accept a term of probation and fines. In return for satisfactorily completing their probation, the court does not enter a conviction. This means the defendant avoids the stigma of a criminal conviction, including many of the collateral consequences, such as a driver’s license suspension (drug offenders) and the inability to vote (felony convictions). Additionally, with a withhold of adjudication, the offender can legally check “no” in the box on job applications that ask if they’ve ever been “convicted.” The federal government, however, doesn’t recognize “withholds” as they consider all crimes where the Court enters a finding of guilt as “convictions”.