Deferred Adjudication and Probation
Interviewer: You mentioned probation, but how does deferred adjudication work?
Gary Churak: Deferred adjudication is the type of probation where basically you get put on probation, and then the court defers an adjudication of guilt. In other words, the judge says, “I find there is sufficient evidence to find you guilty but I am not going to find you guilty, I am going to put you on probation for a period of time, if you complete your probation satisfactory, I will dismiss your case and you will be eligible for an order of non-disclosure on certain offenses at the conclusion of this case. However, should you happen to screw up your probation, then I can bring you into my courtroom and I can sentence you up to the maximum amount allowed by law that I could have sentenced you for.” So, in other words say you got caught with six ounces of marijuana, a state jail felony, and you get put on deferred adjudication. You would complete your deferred adjudication probation, judge says good job, dismisses your case, you wait five years after dismissal you file an order of non-disclosure, and the case is sealed to the private sector. However; say you get put on deferred adjudication probation, you come into the probation department and you come up hot on a UA or two for marijuana or drug use, or you get picked up for a new drug offense. If that happens, the judge can then bring you back to the courtroom on a motion to adjudicate and basically says, “Well, you know what, I gave you a chance and you screwed up. I am going to adjudicate you, which means I am going to find you guilty, you are going to be convicted and I can send you to state jail for up to a term of two years”. That is what happens when you screw up deferred adjudication. It has its benefits and its detriments; it just depends on the individual and whether or not they can follow the rules.
Interviewer: Like a do or die. Is deferred adjudication supervised or non-supervised probation?
Gary Churak: It’s supervised. Unless it’s Class C misdemeanor, like a traffic ticket deal. For the most part it is supervised probation.
Interviewer: To what extend would it be supervised? Do they put an ankle monitor on you?
Gary Churak: No. Sometimes they can do that as a condition but most of the time, depending on if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony; it’s basically reporting to the probation officer once a month, doing your community service, paying your fines and court costs, and staying out of trouble. That’s pretty much what it involves.
Getting a Case Dismissed
Interviewer: How would a case get dismissed?
Gary Churak: There are a number of ways it could be dismissed. One could be that the State has insufficient evidence. In other words, the drugs came back to not be what they said they were. In other words, they do a preliminary lab test, pocket lab evaluation on the drugs to see what they are, but sometimes especially with some of the synthetic stuff or meth, sometimes it won’t come back as meth. When they don’t have a lab report, the case can get dismissed because they don’t have evidence. Sometimes they don’t have a complaining witness. On drug cases, that is not usually true but it could happen. If for some reason the police officer got suspended, got fired, quit, moved on, joined the military, they don’t have a witness and they don’t have a case. That is usually the two situations where cases are dismissed.