If you have appeared in court for a relatively minor offense and have a good lawyer, it is possible that you will be able to convince the judge to withhold his judgment until you are on the court’s behalf. Agree to comply with certain requirements set forth.

This is obviously better than being found guilty of a crime but can cause some problems in the future. These problems usually arise because many people do not understand what withholding judgment actually means. In particular, employers conducting background checks on applicants who see such a decision often take it to mean that they have a criminal conviction to their name.

In this guide, we’ll explain clearly and concisely what a withheld decision actually means, how it’s classified, and how a potential employer can find out about it. We’ll also show you how to check your record to see if a judgment appears to be a withheld judgment and what you can do if it does.

In Florida, what does withholding of judgment or withholding of judgment mean?

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On television, criminal cases almost always end in a dramatic conviction or not guilty verdict. Occasionally, the charges are dismissed. But, in Florida’s criminal justice system, the process is far more important. This complication can actually be good news for people charged with crimes in Jacksonville or anywhere else within the state of Florida. In fact, due to the existence of a legal concept known as either withholding of judgment or withholding of judgment, in Florida, it is possible to enter a plea or in some cases go to trial without being formally convicted of a charge. Even lose. This is especially so when the offenses are relatively minor and the accused has little or no criminal history.

However, an accused is not always eligible for a stay of judgment or a stay of the judgment in all cases. Some precluding factors may include the crime for which the individual has been charged and whether the accused is restrained before being arraigned.

That’s how we at Lofrano Legal, P.A. It is hoped that the following information will be informative and will help to clear up some of the confusion that often surrounds decision making or withholding decisions. For starters, it’s worth noting that withholding of adjudication and adjudication withholding here in Florida means exactly the same thing and are completely interchangeable.

What is withholding of adjudication or stay of adjudication?

In Florida, if a person enters a plea to a felony or is found guilty after a trial, a judge must impose some form of punishment. As part of this sentencing, the court must decide whether or not the person should be punished for the particular offense (for which they are convicted). However, in some cases, the court may impose a sentence that does not convict the accused of the crime and does not withhold judgment. Further, withholding of judgment and withholding of judgment is not punishment.

How Does a Withholding of Judgment or Withholding of Judgment Work in Florida?

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The standard sequence in Florida criminal proceedings involves a trial or plea agreement. If the defendant is found guilty, the court proceeds with sentencing, which may include probation.

However, Florida law allows for different types of contracts. The defendant enters a plea of ​​guilty or no contest to the charges, and then the court goes straight to placing him or her on probation without entering a judgment of conviction. The accused is ordered to abide by the terms of probation for a specified period. Depending on the charges, the defendant’s history, and other factors, there are a variety of special conditions that may be imposed if an individual receives a probationary sentence. Some possible test conditions may include:

  • Reporting to the Probation Officer as required
  • Maintaining suitable employment
  • Keeping the probation office updated with current address and employment information
  • Agreeing to allow probation officers to enter the probationer’s residence
  • Support legal dependents.
  • Avoid any further criminal activity.
  • Avoid contact with people involved in criminal activities.
  • Paying compensation to victims
  • Performing community service
  • Attending substance abuse counseling, anger management, or other treatment programs

Submitting to random drug and alcohol testing

Now if a judge is imposing a probationary sentence after trial or after sentencing, the court has broad discretion to insert probationary restrictions or limitations as it deems appropriate under the circumstances. However, if a defendant reaches a plea agreement or negotiated agreement with prosecutors and the agreement includes a withholding of judgment and a period of probation, the court will only impose probationary conditions that the parties agree to.

Successful completion of probation

Under Florida law, a criminal defendant who is placed on probation with a judgment or withholding of judgment and successfully completes that probation cannot be further convicted of the crime. In other words, successful completion of probation closes the case.

It is important to note, however, that a restrained decision is not a diversion. Charges may be dismissed as a result of successful completion of a diversion program, but not with a withheld adjudication. No conviction is entered, but the case is not dismissed and the withheld conviction remains part of the defendant’s criminal record.

Violations of probation

Maintaining a withheld judgment or withholding judgment depends on the success of probation. And, a defendant who violates the terms of an imposed probation may not only lose the withholding of judgment, but may be at risk of fines greater than those imposed under the original probation sentence.

It is also worth noting that while there are significant positive aspects to withholding of judgment or withholding of judgment, should a person be charged with a violation of a lawsuit that is accompanied by a stay, a defense to the violation prevails. can be more difficult than A trial for the initial primary charge. This is because the standard of proof required to prove a probation violation is a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Further, while the court may specify these conditions upon entering a plea, many people charged with Florida crimes do not fully understand the risks associated with entering a plea in lieu of withholding judgment. While this is often a good resolution, it is important to understand the full ramifications before entering into any plea, and to have an experienced criminal defense attorney weigh the pros and cons of pursuing a stayed judgment. It is important to assess the weaknesses of your case before

Who is eligible for withheld judgment?

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The purpose of the withholding of judgment system was to give people without a criminal history a second chance if the court determined that they were unlikely to engage in criminal activity. Because a criminal conviction can create limitations that make it more difficult for someone to participate in society, courts sometimes find it useful to help a criminal defendant avoid falling into this trap. Be able.

However, having a clean prior criminal record is not a legal requirement. While it is highly unlikely that someone with a prior criminal conviction will be offered a stay of adjudication, it is sometimes an option.

Another factor in determining eligibility for a withheld judgment is the nature of the charge. Certain types of crimes never qualify under Florida law. Most of them are serious crimes. Capital, life, crime never qualify. In addition, an individual charged with a crime punishable by life imprisonment or a general first-degree felony may receive a stay of adjudication only if convicted as a youthful offender. Finally, a defendant may face a second-degree felony or a third-degree felony, but only if:

  1. The prosecutor requests in writing that the decision be withheld, or
  2. The court shall enter written findings of mitigating circumstances justifying a withheld judgment pursuant to Florida Statute 921.0026.

Certain other crimes may be excluded, or the effect of a withheld judgment limited, based on the defendant’s prior criminal history. That said, an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney can tell you whether or not a withholding of judgment is possible based on the charges, and he can explain the factors that will determine whether the court will accept your case. How likely is it to block the decision under the circumstances?

How long is a decision on your record withheld?

Withheld convictions have different effects in different situations, so it’s important to understand how they appear on your criminal record, how long they will appear there, and what effect they will have in different situations.

Like a conviction, here in Florida, a withholding of judgment will remain on a person’s criminal record forever until the withholding is sealed by a court order. This means that unless, after the conclusion of your case, your record is sealed, this stay of adjudication will appear on your criminal history for the rest of your life. But, this is only the first step in determining the deterrent effects of a decision. Here are answers to some other commonly asked questions about what it means to have a decision stay on your record.

Does withholding judgment count as punishment?

The simple answer is no, if someone is deterred from judgment then they are not guilty of a crime. Thus, a person who receives a withholding of judgment for a felony does not lose the right to vote or own a firearm. However, there are questions that may arise later in life, such as on job applications or contracts, for someone who ultimately gets hold of a decision that can be confusing or difficult. Likewise, make sure you answer these questions correctly can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney in your corner. Additionally, although the suspension is not a penalty it may have some negative consequences for federal employment or military service.

Will a decision be withheld on a background check?

Yes, unless the record is sealed, a withheld judgment is part of your criminal history and will show up in a background check. If you’re applying for a job or filling out a rental application that requires a background check, be prepared for questions about your charge, or clear them up in advance.

Do I have to list the withheld decision on the job application?

The answer to this question depends on the wording of the application. For example, some job applications – and other applications, such as for apartment rentals or volunteer opportunities – will ask if you have been convicted of a felony or convicted of a felony. Withholding judgment is not a penalty, so you can honestly answer “no” to this question. But, be aware that a background check will change the charge anyway. And, read the question carefully. Some other applications use different phrases, such as “Have you ever entered a plea of ​​guilty or no contest to a criminal charge?” The answer will be “yes” because you must file an application as part of the withheld adjudication process.

How does withholding judgment affect gun rights?

A stayed judgment does not by itself disqualify a person from possessing a firearm in Florida. However, in certain types of cases, the judge may prohibit the ownership or possession of firearms during the probation period. Failure to comply with this restriction may result in a probation violation which may trigger a felony conviction and entry of a judgment of conviction.

Is withholding judgment a good deal?

As with most answers to tough legal questions, the answer is that it depends. Withholding judgment can be a way to avoid a criminal conviction for a felony in Florida and the many sanctions that come with it. In fact, an individual may be eligible to have their records sealed in some cases after receiving a stay. And of course, a defendant who is placed on probation is often placed on a form of supervision in lieu of jail or prison time, which is also beneficial. He said there could still be downsides to conducting that would result in a stay of judgment.

Therefore, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits. Violating probation can have serious consequences. And, most people lack the knowledge and experience to accurately assess the strength of the case against them, or whether there may be an effective defense available.

Talking to an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is the best way to protect yourself from serious mistakes in criminal proceedings. Attorney Matthew Lofrano has the experience you need and offers free consultations to help people charged with crimes gather reliable information.

Do you have to disclose a withheld judgment?

When you apply for a job, you’re almost certain to be asked about your criminal history. One of the questions we get asked a lot is whether you need to declare an Adjudication Withheld Order in these circumstances.

It’s a difficult question to answer honestly, and if there’s anything worse than declaring a criminal history on a job application, it’s being caught lying about your criminal record.

Giving an honest answer may depend on how your potential employer asks the question.

If they ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime”, you are within your rights to answer no. A judgment withholding is not, by definition, a criminal conviction.

But if they ask something like whether you’ve pleaded guilty to a crime, been charged with a crime, appeared in court on a criminal matter, or had a stay or deferred adjudication, you should The answer would probably be yes.

Choosing how to answer this question is up to you. But there is another important factor to bear in mind. Chances are your potential employer will also run a criminal background check on you.

Why is it important to check your own criminal history?

Anyone, including you, has a right to see your criminal record. Although employers use professional background check sites, there are also many public background check sites that anyone can use.

These will use many of the same data sources and display much of the same information. This is an ideal way to see what information appears in your own criminal history and gives you ammunition to correct any mistakes before your potential boss sees them.

Doing a background check on yourself is quick and easy. In fact, the hardest part of the process is deciding which site to use. There are hundreds of background checking sites on the market these days and they all claim to be the best in the business.

Of course, in reality, some are better than others. So, which one should you choose?

We’re testing all of the top background checking sites to see which ones offer the most accurate and comprehensive criminal record information. The results of these extensive tests are now out and we found that there were two sites that significantly outperformed the rest.

What is a criminal background check?

A criminal background check is an important step in almost every job application these days. Your potential employer will want to search through public files to check that you are telling the truth about your background, your experience, and your criminal record on your resume.

Criminal records are kept in the public domain and everyone has the right to see the criminal history of any US citizen.

In the past, this was not easy to do because records were only kept in hard copy. But the advent of the digital age has seen most criminal records online and made searching through them much easier.

Background check sites have responded by creating automated tools that can search through digitized criminal records and other publicly held data and compile reports on anyone in the country.

The types of information that a criminal background check will include:

Complete Criminal Records – A background check can reveal any criminal records at the state, federal, or county level. A criminal background check will reveal the most recent details of all serious and misdemeanor crimes. If needed, sites can send runners to search for any non-digitized records to ensure their report is complete.

Sex Offender Registry – If you have signed on to the sex offender registry at the federal or state level, a criminal background check will be able to detect this.

Driving Records – Background checks routinely look through driving records. This means that any minor traffic violations that are not added to your criminal record may also be shown.

Civil Records – Any civil cases, bankruptcy, tax liens, or court judgments filed against you will be found through a background check. They can also show any FCRA, DPPA, and GLB complaints.

Arrest Data – If you’ve been arrested, it will show up on a background check even if you’ve never been charged or convicted of a crime.

Personal Data – Criminal background checks also verify your personal details including full name, current addresses, family members, properties owned, business directorships, employment history, educational records, etc.

These reports provide a great picture of what the person is like and include a lot of details including their entire criminal history.

Not surprisingly, employers and many other professional organizations now use background checks to hire people, rental properties to them, and for many other reasons.

Will a criminal background check show a withheld conviction?

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A withheld judgment can and will show up on a criminal background check.

If a judgment is withheld against you, you will be arrested, charged with a crime, and arraigned. All of this will be recorded on your file and therefore will show up on a criminal background check.

This means that if your potential employer is not familiar with the technical definition of a withheld judgment, they may likely assume that you have been convicted of a felony.

There are some scenarios where a withheld judgment may now show up on your background check. There are rules and regulations governing the use of background checks for professional purposes.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers are not allowed to consider any criminal record older than seven years. In some states, there is legislation to shorten this period.

This means that if your withheld conviction was more than seven years ago, it should not show up on a criminal background check. But there is no guarantee of that. Sometimes court records may be inaccurate or databases are not updated quickly and accurately and your record may be incorrect.

It is always a tragedy when someone loses a job due to such mistakes. But there’s one surefire way to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Run a background check on yourself.

The benefits of honesty

A background check site will give you advance warning of what a potential employer might see on your record. But if it shows that your withheld decision shows up on a criminal background check, that doesn’t mean you should quit the job.

Some employers will know what a withheld decision means and others will not. But if you know what appears on your record, you can be open and honest in your application and explain the situation clearly.

While you can legally claim no criminal convictions on your application, you may also want to include a note explaining that you have a withheld conviction on your record.

This gives you an opportunity to explain what this means and also the circumstances behind your particular crime. By controlling the narrative in this way, you have a much better chance of being considered for the role if your potential employer thinks you’re trying to hide something from them or deceive them.

Advantages of withheld judgment

A Florida judge can withhold sentencing.

In the state of Florida, stayed judgments are available in misdemeanor and certain types of felony cases. There are many benefits to a person who is able to obtain a withheld judgment and successfully complete a period of probation. A major benefit of a withheld judgment is that it will allow the case to be sealed after the successful completion of the period, assuming other eligibility requirements are satisfied such as no convictions on his record and No other case shall be sealed or discharged. . In Florida

In the case of misdemeanor charges, a defendant who is given a withheld judgment may also be able to avoid the confiscation of a driver’s license associated with certain minor drug offenses. A defendant can avoid points on a driver’s license associated with certain types of traffic violations.

Benefits are more important in a case where a crime is charged. When a withheld judgment is granted in a felony case, and assuming the defendant successfully completes the court-ordered probation period, he does not waive his civil rights. A defendant is not deprived of the right to vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office. The issue of possession of a firearm after a withheld judgment is not so simple and is addressed separately below.

Limitations of withheld judgment

Florida’s statute barring judgment is not without some notable limitations. Indeed, in recent years, both the Florida Legislature and the state Supreme Court have taken steps that have limited the applications and benefits associated with withheld judgment in the Sunshine State.

Withheld judgments are not available in DUI cases. In addition, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute §775.08435 which prevents a withheld judgment in first-degree felony cases, and the statute would have made it more difficult to obtain a withheld judgment in second-degree felony cases.

Deferred adjudication and future criminal charges

In a number of different cases, the Florida Supreme Court has concluded that a withheld conviction preempts future criminal conduct. In other words, a case in which a guilty verdict was withheld is later used in a criminal proceeding to enhance or otherwise count the sentence.

The same is true at the federal level. As is the case with gun possession cases, federal courts will treat a withheld judgment as a conviction because there is no comparable provision in federal law.

Employment and Withheld Decisions

A primary benefit associated with deferred judgment is found in the realm of job search. Many job applications include a question about a felony conviction, often referring specifically to a felony conviction. A person with withheld judgment can honestly answer this type of question about prior convictions in the negative.

With that note, many businesses are becoming more savvy when it comes to these types of questions on a job application. An increasing number of businesses include a question on the job application that refers to a conviction, diversion, or withheld judgment for a particular crime.

A person also needs to understand that a withheld conviction will appear on the criminal history record. If the information is entered correctly in such a report, it will show that there has been no actual conviction in a particular case. With that said, a potential employer will still be able to determine from the record that a person was charged with a particular crime, pleaded guilty to that crime, and served probation as a sentence.

Pros and Cons of Withholding Judgments in Florida

If you have been charged with a crime, you may be eligible for withholding of judgment. The outcome of this type of case is not a conviction, but it is also not an acquittal or dismissal of your charges. Rather, when a judge withholds adjudication, he or she sentences you to probation without formally convicting you of a crime.

Withholding judgment is better than punishment. However, if you know you are innocent, and if there is good evidence to support the proposition, it may be in your best interest to plead guilty or have the charges dismissed.

What are the benefits of withholding judgment?

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Withholding judgment is not the best outcome for your criminal case, but it does offer some advantages:

It’s not a conviction – You don’t have to deal with the side effects of having a criminal conviction on your record. Even one misdemeanor can result in losing your job, difficulty qualifying for an occupational license, and difficulty finding new employment. Driving privileges can be revoked as a result of drug or alcohol charges. A felony conviction carries even more severe consequences, such as losing your right to own a firearm.

Probation is the only sentence – Instead of paying a fine or spending time behind bars, you’ll only need to complete the terms of your probation, including community service, drug testing, counseling, and avoiding the company of inappropriate people. Includes doing.

It Avoids Trial – Criminal trials are expensive, time-consuming, and public records. You can avoid damage to your reputation by requesting a stay of judgment and avoiding a criminal trial.

What are the disadvantages of withholding judgment?

Withholding judgment can help you avoid some of the damages of a criminal conviction, but it has some serious drawbacks:

Not all records can be expunged or sealed. A record withholding a domestic violence, kidnapping, manslaughter, theft, aggravated assault, or sex offense conviction cannot be sealed or expunged, which means it will show up in a background check.

You may not pass all background checks. If the job application asks if you have been arrested for a criminal offense or are a defendant, you must answer “yes,” even if you qualify for a withholding of judgment.

You may face more severe penalties in the future. Withholding of judgment is considered the same as sentencing in the guidelines that judges use to determine your sentence. This means that if you are convicted of a crime in the future, withholding your judgment may give the judge a reason to increase your sentence. You may even be labeled a violent offender or a habitual offender.

In other jurisdictions, detention is treated as punishment. The benefits of withholding judgment end at the Florida state line. Courts in other states or federal jurisdictions do not recognize Florida’s withholding of judgment, which can be especially troubling if you have a serious charge withheld.

What crimes do not qualify for a restraining order?

A withholding judgment is usually available if you are facing your first criminal charges. But in some rare cases, you may get a second chance even if you have prior convictions. The following crimes are never eligible for stay of judgment:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Capital and life offenses
  • Felonies of the first degree

Second-degree felonies may qualify for withholding of judgment, but only if the prosecutor requests it or the judge thinks you deserve it. A third-degree felony conviction can be withheld, but your chances of successfully pleading will be reduced if you have a prior felony conviction.

I’m not eligible for withholding: What are my options?

If you do not qualify for withholding, your attorney will try to influence the charging decision in your favor.

If you are arrested, the prosecutor will decide whether to bring formal criminal charges against you. Your attorney can make a preliminary move to convince the prosecutor to drop or drop the charges by providing additional information or witnesses.

Stay of Judgment v. Nole Prosek

Nolle prosequi is a Latin phrase meaning “not wanting to prosecute.” With a mistrial, the prosecutor dismisses the case before trial or sentencing — effectively meaning your case is dismissed, and you’re eligible to have your record expunged.

This is in contrast to a withheld conviction, where the court does not formally convict you but may still order probation or other punishments such as fines or community service.

Can CDL drivers get civil traffic citations?

No. According to federal regulation 49 CFR § 384.226, no state may prevent a civil traffic violation from appearing on a CDL holder’s driving record. A CDL holder also cannot participate in a DUI/DWI diversion program regardless of the vehicle the driver was driving at the time of the offense.

The measure was adopted to prevent states from masking driving offenses for CDL holders.

How a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota can help.

If you’re wondering whether withholding of judgment is the best option for your criminal case, Erica Walcarsel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. A Sarasota criminal defense attorney can help. The best course of action depends on what stage of the criminal justice process your case is at. If you’ve just been arrested, for example, we can convince the prosecutor to drop your charges or not charge you at all.

If you have already been charged, we may review the evidence against you and determine whether your charges may be admissible for dismissal. If not, requesting a stay of judgment may be better than going to trial or agreeing to a plea deal.

Will a withheld judgment prevent me from getting a job?

Let’s understand what ex-offenders and felons mean when looking for jobs. Withheld adjudication usually refers to a judge’s decision to place a person on probation without a conviction. A fine and a period of probation will usually be fixed by the court. After the conditions are met, the charges are usually dropped. There will be no penalty associated with this offense. If the person does not meet the conditions of probation, a finding of guilt may be entered and the person may be sentenced according to the penalties specified for the crime.

So when someone completing the application asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer “no” and rightly so because you haven’t. Keep in mind that the charge will show up as a charge on a background check and if you’re not sure, you shouldn’t have a problem with that. Should check with the officer.

Will a withheld judgment keep me out of jobs?

As for finding a job in Florida, I suggest you check with your nearest One Stop Career Center. There you will find a variety of services that can help you find your next job. You may be able to find counselors who will work with you to help you.


A withheld judgment is not technically a criminal conviction. But that doesn’t mean a potential employer won’t mistake it if it shows up on your criminal background check.

In this article, we have explained exactly what a withheld decision is and how it is classified. We’ve provided some advice on how to submit such an order on a job application and how to see if your order will appear on your record. We’ve also recommended the best site to use to check your own criminal history for withheld convictions.

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