You are filling out a job application and come to a question that asks you if you have ever been convicted of a crime. You do not have a conviction on your record, but you do have a deferred adjudication. For good reason, you’re asking, “Do I have to disclose a deferred adjudication to this employer?”
A deferred adjudication, also known as an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal or probation before judgment, is a type of plea deal that allows defendants to avoid formal criminal convictions. The defendant agrees to plead either “guilty” or “no contest” to a charge. In return, the court allows the defendant to complete a probation or diversion program instead of prison time. The diversion program may take the form of community service, rehabilitation treatment, or something else.
If you have been given deferred adjudication, then a judge has not technically found you guilty. As such, you do not technically have a conviction on your record. If you are asked whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, the accurate answer is, “No.” The wording here is important, because some employers might also ask if you have ever pleaded “guilty” or “no contest” to a criminal charge. In that case, you would have to report your deferred adjudication to be truthful on your job application.
You may ultimately wish to disclose the deferred adjudication of your own accord even if the wording of the question does not require you to do so. Deferred adjudications will normally show up on your criminal background check. Employers will be able to see the crime you were charged with and the plea you entered at the time of judgment. Disclosing the deferred adjudication upfront—and providing background details to explain what happened and what you are doing as a probationary measure—allows you to control the narrative of your criminal record when you address an explorer.
The other factors at play are ban the box and expungement. If you are applying for a job where ban the box laws are on the books, you will not be asked by the employer to disclose details about your criminal history. The employer won’t learn those details until the criminal background check.
Regarding expungement, let’s say you have a deferred adjudication in which your probation program was supposed to last ten years. If you have completed the requirements stipulated by the court, you may be eligible to have your case formally dismissed or to have the record of the crime sealed or expunged. In these cases, you will no longer be expected to disclose details in any form, nor should those details come up on a background check.