What is a Withhold of Adjudication?

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What is a Withhold of Adjudication?

A withhold of adjudication of guilt is unique to Florida.  When a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, like in any other state the judge can adjudicate the defendant guilty.  However, for certain offenses the judge may instead withhold an adjudication of guilt.  A withhold of adjudication is often referred to simply as a “withhold.”  
A court can withhold adjudication upon finding that “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct and that the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the defendant presently suffer the penalty imposed by law.” A person with a withhold can lawfully deny having been convicted of the crime; cannot be impeached with the crime when testifying in future court proceedings; and, if adjudication is withheld in a felony case, will not lose the right to vote. In other words, as a general matter a withhold is not a conviction for purposes of Florida law.   

No Witholds in Certain Felonies

Florida statute prohibits the imposition of a withhold for defendants charged with a capita felony, a life felony or a 1st degree felony.

Witholds are allowed in 2nd and 3rd degree felonies if:

  • the client doesn't have (for 2nd degree felony) any prior felony withholds or (for 3rd degree felony) two prior felony witholds AND
  • the state attorney agrees to it and provides a written explanation OR
  • the Court feels that doing so is justified based upon factors explained in Florida Statute 921.0026

Important Issues in a Withhold of Adjudication

  • The withhold will appear on background checks and on your records, however, you can petition to have a withhold sealed from your criminal record
  • A withhold means you were not convicted of the charges, it does not mean you were found not guilty or the charges were dropped
  • There are still certain employment fields, including nursing and the military, where even a withhold could your prevent you from being eligible to work
  • Once you get a withhold, you are less likely to be offered another if charged for a crime in the future
  • You can not be sentenced to prison if you receive a withhold, however you can serve a county jail sentence
  • You will not lose your right to vote
  • You are not a convicted felon

If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Criminal Case

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.