Criminal Conviction vs. Withhold of Adjudication
A withhold of adjudication is a legal term of art that is very important in the criminal law, especially in the State of Florida. In most cases, when a person pleads to a criminal offense (or is found guilty at trial) the Judge will have the discretion to adjudicate the person guilty of the offense or withhold adjudication. If the Judge withholds, it is likely because the person is found to be a first-time offender and is worthy of the withhold. If you are adjudicated guilty (or formally convicted) of the charge, it is because the defendant has a prior criminal history, the offense requires it (such as a DUI), or the Judge feels it appropriate under the circumstances. Wherever possible, you want the adjudication withheld. When it is withheld, you can say that you have not been convicted of that criminal offense – because you were not. It was withheld.
Consequences of an Adjudication of Guilt in Florida
If you are adjudicated guilty of the offense, you are formally convicted of the charge and your record will reflect that. As a result of being adjudged guilty, you cannot seal or expunge that offense nor any other offense on your record – even if the adjudication was withheld on the other offense. For other ramifications of criminal records, please see my page on the matter.