When a person charged with a criminal offense in Florida enters a plea, the judge can either rule on the facts of the case and “adjudicate” them guilty (adult) or delinquent (juvenile), or “withhold adjudication” of guilt or delinquency in the matter. If you have an adjudication withheld you are not “convicted” of the crime although you are still found to be guilty of the crime. As a result, a “withhold” allows the person to avoid the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.
How can I get a withhold?
“Withholds” are usually given to defendants facing their first misdemeanor or felony conviction. In some cases a defense attorney may be able to negotiate a withhold as part of a plea offer with the state attorney’s office even if the defendant has prior convictions or withholds.
If I get a withhold do I have a criminal record?
Yes, even if you receive a withhold, the arresting police agency and the clerk of the court maintains a record of the criminal charge and the final disposition of the court case. If you have never been convicted of a crime, you may be eligible to seal and expunge one case, once in your life. Sealing and expunging is a separate process best left to a criminal lawyer.
So how does a withhold benefit me?
If you receive a withhold and have no other prior convictions you can truthfully respond “NO” when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Being convicted has the potential to negatively impact several aspects of your life including obtaining employment, leasing property, and owning a firearm.
Withholds offer defendants a great opportunity to keep their records clean, and remain a productive member of society. If you have any further questions regarding withholds or any other legal matter, please don’t hesitate to contact John Castro, the experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney of Anton Castro Law for a free consultation.