Withhold of Adjudication in Florida: FAQs

Posted by Daniel BottariJul 28, 2020

Withholding Adjudication

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Bottari & Doyle for a free case evaluation. A criminal charge is a serious accusation against your name, and as trusted criminal lawyers for South Florida, we understand when some of our clients might want to avoid the embarrassment of having a mistake listed on their record for others to see. If you are facing a criminal charge for the first time, we may recommend that you pursue a “withhold of adjudication” to keep your criminal history private from employers and other parties. Read below for important information on how to get a withhold of adjudication in Florida.

What is a “Withhold of Adjudication” in Florida?

A withhold of adjudication means that the court is “withholding adjudication” and the judge is not convicting the defendant of a crime.  A defendant or a person who receives a withhold of adjudication is given a free bite at the apple by not being convicted of the crime for which he or she is charged.  This is important because a withhold of adjudication without any prior convictions will typically allow a defendant to get their record sealed.   A record sealing prevents an employer or anyone interested in your criminal history from being able to access the court's documents pertaining to your case.  A record sealing also allows you to say that you have never been arrested for a crime.  Additionally, a withhold of adjudication allows a person to say that they were not convicted of the crime.

How do I get a withhold of adjudication in Florida?

Withholds of adjudication are typically offered by prosecutors to defendants who do not have much of a criminal history.  In exchange for a guilty plea, a defendant given a withhold of adjudication may be assessed court costs or a fine.  On more serious cases such as drug sale, burglary, or battery, a defendant who receives a withhold of adjudication is placed on probation.  A defendant who successfully completes probation will maintain the withhold of adjudication.  However, if the defendant violates probation, the judge may revoke and termination probation and adjudicate the defendant for the underlying offense and sentence the defendant to the maximum possible period of jail or prison for that offense.  For example, a defendant who received a withhold of adjudication for battery and violates probation can be sentenced to up to one year in the county jail because battery is a first degree misdemeanor.  In Florida, first degree misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of one year in the county jail.

Can I get a withhold of adjudication for DUI in Florida?

No, the judge cannot withhold adjudication for DUI.  This is pursuant to Florida law. This means that anyone who enters a plea to DUI or who is found guilty by a jury must be adjudicated guilty by a judge.  This is why it is important to fight DUI charges to avoid an adjudication of guilt.

Can I get a withhold of adjudication for a felony in Florida?

Yes, on most third-degree felonies a defendant is eligible for a withhold of adjudication.  Additionally, the court may agree to give a defendant a withhold of adjudication if the prosecutor agrees to the withhold of adjudication on more serious felonies.  Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 948.01, the court may issue a withhold of adjudication if the defendant is unlikely to reoffend by committing additional crimes.  The defendant must be placed on probation.  Again, upon successful completion of probation, the defendant will keep the withhold and not become a convicted felon.

What are the benefits to a withhold of adjudication?

You do not want to become a convicted felon. Period. Felony convictions stay with you for the rest of your life. Felons are prevented from owning firearms, voting, and must answer that they have been convicted of a felony when asked by employers. It is difficult to get a good job if you are a felon. Additionally, any professional who holds a license risks losing their license with a felony conviction.

Contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Bottari & Doyle

If you have been arrested for a crime in Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Lake Worth, or anywhere in South Florida, the criminal defense lawyers at Bottari & Doyle can try to help you get a withhold of adjudication. Whether you're facing a felony or a misdmeanor, you do not want an arrest on your criminal record. Call us today for a free case evaluation to start building your defense.