Adjudicated Guilty: What Does It Mean

When you are arrested for a crime, it can be a scary and confusing time. There are many legal terms that the general public might not understand, such as adjudicated guilty. If you have been arrested for a crime, working with a Clearwater criminal defense attorney is in your best interests.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will work with you to lead an aggressive legal defense and ensure you have a good understanding of the overall process — and potential consequences — of your case within the criminal justice system.

What Does Adjudicated Guilty Mean?

Adjudicated guilty is a legal term used in a criminal case. The term adjudicated guilty can be used whether you plead no-contest, plead guilty, or plead not guilty and go to trial. If you go to trial – after the evidence is weighed and examined and witnesses or experts have completed their testimony, it is time for the decision. If you are found guilty, after that is the sentencing phase.

During the sentencing phase, the judge may determine you adjudicated guilty of the crime, which means you are convicted for that crime in a court of law. Adjudicated means the act of pronouncing or declaring by a judge. In this context, adjudicated guilty of the crime that you were accused of by law enforcement.

Alternatively, a judge can withhold adjudication.

What Does Adjudication Withheld Mean?

The judge, generally speaking, has wide discretion in deciding on a case. They do have to follow statutes, but depending on your circumstances, the judge may decide to rule the adjudication withheld, meaning it would not be a conviction.

A judge will consider several factors in determining adjudication, including any prior criminal record, age, the particular facts of the case, and the type of offense.

Note: there are restrictions to getting an adjudication withheld in your case. Florida law does not allow certain crimes – such as DUI – to be eligible for adjudication withheld, including cases against juveniles. The only way to be eligible for withholding of adjudication is if the DUI charge from law enforcement is reduced to a lesser offense, another critical reason to have a skilled, experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney.

What are the Consequences of Adjudicated Guilty?

Since adjudicated guilty does mean you are convicted of the crime you were accused of, there are both short and long-term consequences. Whether it is for a misdemeanor or a felony, the consequences of being adjudicated guilty are very serious and can include:

  • Fines and fees in the hundreds or thousands of dollars
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Suspension or Loss of Driver’s License
  • Community Service
  • Ignition Interlock
  • DUI School

Depending on the crime, penalties often range from fines to jail time to probation. A criminal defense attorney will work hard in your defense against a conviction and work to get the best outcome of the case if you are adjudicated guilty. A good defense attorney will argue/negotiate your case to reduce fines, jail time, probation, and other potential outcomes. They may even be able to help you keep your driver’s license – or reduce the time of suspension.

Other Potential Consequences of Being Adjudicated Guilty

In addition to the above possibilities, if you are adjudicated guilty, there can be repercussions on your ability to continue working in your chosen career field or get a job. There may also be difficulty in leasing an apartment or house as it affects your future insurance rates.

The most daunting problem with being adjudicated guilty is that it prevents a sealing or expunction of your criminal record. One such adjudication can completely prevent that from happening. My office frequently seals or expunges criminal records. Per Florida Statute, one adjudication on a criminal case prevents any subsequent sealing or expunction. Sealing or expunction means eliminating the portion of the record you wish to prevent people doing background checks from finding.

FAQs About Being Adjudicated Guilty

Here, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about being adjudicated guilty, offering clarity and guidance in a complex system.

What is the difference between being adjudicated guilty and a conviction?

Adjudication refers to the formal judgment process in court. When someone is adjudicated guilty, it means the court has formally declared them guilty of the charges. This is effectively the same as a conviction, which is the formal declaration of someone’s guilt following a plea or trial.

Can I appeal an adjudication of guilt?

Yes, defendants have the right to appeal an adjudication of guilt. However, appeals must be based on specific grounds, such as errors in the trial process, the admission of inadmissible evidence, or insufficient evidence to support the verdict. Appeals must be filed within a specific timeframe after the verdict or sentence, which varies by jurisdiction.

How does being adjudicated guilty affect my employment prospects?

Being adjudicated guilty can have significant implications for employment. Employers often conduct background checks that can reveal criminal convictions, potentially affecting hiring decisions. Certain professions, especially those requiring licensure or security clearances, may have specific restrictions against hiring individuals with criminal records. However, some states offer protections or limits on how criminal records can be considered in employment decisions.

What is record sealing or expungement, and am I eligible?

Record sealing or expungement involves legally concealing or destroying your criminal record from public view. Eligibility varies by state, offense, and individual circumstances. Generally, non-violent offenses, misdemeanors, and cases where the individual has completed all sentencing requirements, including any probation period, are more likely to be eligible. Violent offenses, felonies, and certain other crimes may not be eligible. A waiting period after the completion of your sentence is also commonly required.

How long does adjudication remain on my record?

Without sealing or expungement, an adjudication of guilt typically remains on your criminal record indefinitely. It is accessible through background checks and can impact various aspects of your life, such as employment, housing, and education. The permanence of the record emphasizes the importance of pursuing sealing or expungement if eligible.

Dean Tsourakis – Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney

Dean Tsourakis is a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. He has worked on “both sides of the table” for many years as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. Doing so has given him a comprehensive understanding of the law and how to develop the right legal strategies to get the best outcome possible for his clients in a criminal case in the state of Florida.

Are you concerned about being adjudicated guilty? Contact the law office of Dean Tsourakis for a free consultation today. It is critical to get appropriate legal representation as quickly as possible.