Deferred Adjudication in Chicago Drug Crimes

The best way to permanently bury a criminal record in drug cases is an expungement or sealing proceeding. But such procedures are not available to everyone. The law usually limits expungement and sealing to persons with no criminal record and certain types of criminal prosecutions. Moreover, there is usually a waiting period 2 years after successful completion of deferred prosecution to begin the expungement process and of up to five years on some types of cases.

Because of these drawbacks, deferred prosecution may be an alternative in some cases, but this arrangement has some significant drawbacks and limitations of its own. It is important to be fully aware of these things before agreeing to a deferred disposition plea.

Mechanics of a Chicago Deferred Prosecution Plea

Procedures vary in different jurisdictions, but generally, deferred adjudication is a type of supervised probation. The big difference is that, although the Illinois judge accepts the plea of guilty or no contest, the judge makes a finding of guilt, but does not make a judgment on the finding. That judgment is withheld and deferred until the probation is completed or not completed by the defendant in the case.

Instead, if the defendant successfully completes the terms of the probation once the period of probation expires, the judge dismisses the case. As a result, the defendant has no conviction record. The prosecution record remains behind, as does the arrest record.

Sometimes, the prosecutor agrees to deferred adjudication. The judge still has the right to accept or reject the agreed plea, but such judicial overrides are extremely rare. If the prosecutor does not agree to deferred adjudication, most jurisdictions offer open plea options. In these cases, defendants almost literally throw themselves on the mercy of the court. Sometimes, defendants may offer mitigating evidence in a procedure akin to a sentencing hearing.

Just because you complete the deferred prosecution, it does NOT mean your record is clear. The conviction is not entered on your record, but the arrest and Court records remain in the public domain for all to see and access. Only an expunction or sealing done by an attorney and approved by a Judge clears non-conviction judicial records as well as arrest records and removes them from the public domain.

Should I Agree to Deferred Adjudication?

There are significant pros and cons to deferred adjudication in Illinois. The biggest pro, which is no conviction, is outlined above. That advantage alone is often sufficient in the minds of many defendants. However, terms and conditions of deferred prosecution can be strict and if the defendant fails to abide by those terms, the Prosecution can file petition for probation revocation which gives the Judge the option to send the Defendant to jail. If there is sufficient mitigation, rather than revoke probation and send the defendant to jail or prison, The Court could reinstate the deferred prosecution or place the defendant on regular probation.

Such judicial options can also be a significant liability. If the judge revokes deferred adjudication probation, most Illinois judges can sentence the defendant to any term up to and including the maximum prison sentence allowed under the charges the defendant pled guilty to origionally.

Before you say “yes” to deferred adjudication in Illinois, it is important to honestly consider whether you are a good candidate for probation. Some people have a hard time towing the line, having their personal actions monitored and their choices scrutinized for an extended period of time. If that is the case, deferred prosecution may not be a good option, especially in serious felony cases.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

In many ways, deferred adjudication is an effective option to having a permanent conviction of your record, but there are risks involved, as well. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.

(image courtesy of Cristian S.)

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