What Is the Difference Between Deferred Adjudication and “Straight” Probation in Texas?

Terms such as deferred adjudication, probation, and community supervision can be confusing. However, knowing the difference between each will help you know what you need to do in your case, and what you can expect in the future. Our Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys are here to help you understand.

Community Supervision

In Texas, probation is called community supervision. There are two types of community supervision:

  1. deferred adjudication, and
  2. regular community supervision, otherwise known as “straight” probation.

Community Supervision is an alternative punishment to jail or prison. You can be supervised for up to 2 years for a misdemeanor and up to 10 years for a felony.

If a judge places you on community supervision, this means you are allowed to stay in the community, but you will be supervised by the court and required to do certain things like perform drug tests, obtain employment, do community service, or even serve some jail time. For a misdemeanor, the judge can order the defendant to spend up to 30 days in jail, and for a felony, the judge can order that the defendant spend up to 180 days in jail.

It is critical that you do not commit another offense while under community supervision. If you are charged with another offense, the district attorney (the state’s attorney) can request that you be placed in jail and the community supervision be revoked.

Deferred Adjudication

Deferred adjudication is generally offered to first-time offender. If a person successfully completes deferred adjudication, the person will not have a conviction (be found guilty). This often means that the completed deferred adjudication can be hidden from public view with a non-disclosure.

It is important to note that juries in Texas cannot give deferred adjudication. So, if the defendant chooses to go to jury trial, deferred adjudication will not be a possible punishment.

Also, if the defendant does not successfully complete the deferred adjudication or does not follow the conditions set by the judge, the district attorney can ask the judge find the defendant guilty and place the defendant in jail or prison for a term within the statutory range of punishment.

This means that if Jane Doe is charged with a Class A Misdemeanor Theft and is deferred, then later fails a drug test, the judge can revoke Jane’s community supervision and sentence her up to a year (statutory maximum) in jail.

Regular Community Supervision or “Straight” Probation

            In contrast to deferred adjudications, regular community supervision, or “straight” probation results in a conviction which means it cannot be sealed or expunged. This means that the public will be able to find out if you have been convicted of a crime.

But, regular community supervision is an option if the defendant chooses to have a jury trial. This means that if Jane elects to have a jury trial for her Class A Theft charge, the jury can give her regular community supervision, but not deferred adjudication.

Also, if the defendant’s community supervision is revoked, the maximum jail or prison time is set at the time of the plea or conviction. This means that if Jane is placed on community supervision for her Class A Theft but is revoked for failing a drug test, and the set maximum jail time at the time of her conviction was 6 months, Jane can be placed in jail for up to 6 months (not 1 year which is the statutory maximum).


            Community supervision ends either when the term expires or when the defendant is released.

If you have successfully completed deferred adjudication and the case has been dismissed, this does not mean that the arrest will automatically disappear. You must file a petition for non-disclosure for the case to be sealed. However, some cases, like assault family violence, will stay on your criminal history and cannot be removed with a non-disclosure.

Also, some deferred adjudications may require a waiting period before you can file a petition for non-disclosure. This means that after a successful completion of the deferred adjudication, you will have to wait until the end of the waiting period to file a non-disclosure.

Unlike deferred adjudication, regular community supervision cannot be sealed with a non-disclosure or expunged.

Make sure you always consult with your attorney, and discuss all of your options before moving forward with either type of community supervision. The Board-Certified criminal defense attorneys at Nickols & White, PLLC, have over 35 years of combined experience with criminal charges. Call us at (817) 617-7500 for a consult today.