Eligibility for Deferred Disposition - Ticket Help Texas
Court Fines & Traffic Tickets
Here, learn about "deferred disposition," where you complete certain requirements in exchange for having a case dismissed. Understand eligibility, how you get deferred disposition, and what the benefits are.
This material was created by the Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed. Access the toolkit and related resources at TicketHelpTexas.org.
Special thanks to Texas Fair Defense Project and Texas Appleseed for this article.
What is deferred disposition?
A deferred disposition is an agreement between you and the court. If you complete the requirements of the deferred disposition, the court will dismiss the case.
Some courts may refer to it as “probation,” but it’s different than the probation sentence you would receive due to a conviction for a more serious criminal offense. You won’t have a probation officer but will be required to complete the requirements ordered by the judge and show proof to the judge you have done so.
Who decides whether I get a deferred disposition?
It’s ultimately up the judge whether you can enter a deferred disposition, so if you want one you should ask the judge. Check the court’s website or call the clerk ahead of time to ask if it’s an option for everyone.
Also, if you are able to speak to the prosecutor before court, you can ask the prosecutor for a deferred disposition and see if you two can work out the terms. The prosecutor will then take that agreement to the judge, who will almost always agree to the terms if the prosecutor has already agreed.
Will I still have to pay a fine under deferred disposition?
Be prepared for the court to impose a fine and court costs as part of a deferred disposition. However, your inability to pay this fine and costs should not keep you from receiving the benefits of a deferred disposition.
If you cannot pay the fine and costs, ask the judge to waive the fine and costs. If the judge is not willing to waive them, offer to do community service or pay in installments. Most courts have affidavits of inability to pay fines and fees that you will be asked to complete in order to be granted these options. Basically, these are forms where you provide information about your income and your expenses, so the court will know you actually cannot pay. Complete this form in as much detail as possible.
What is good about a deferred disposition?
The benefits of a deferred disposition are that you can avoid a criminal record and avoid a change to your driving record that could increase your insurance fees.
How do I become eligible for deferred disposition?
To be eligible for a deferred disposition, you’ll be required to plead no contest or guilty and to waive your right to a trial. If you don’t complete the requirements of the deferred disposition, you’ll be convicted of the offense and sentenced the same as someone not eligible for deferred disposition.
What are typical deferred disposition conditions?
Terms of deferred disposition agreements will vary from court to court and even from case to case. Typical requirements may include the completion of a driver’s safety course (commonly known as defensive driving) for a moving violation, or for offenses involving alcohol or drug use, the court may require an alcohol or drug awareness class or treatment. Other requirements may include counseling, tutoring if you are in school, or community service. You will have to submit proof to the court that you completed the requirements before the case is dismissed.
- Here’s a sample deferred disposition agreement from the Austin Municipal Court for people charged with certain moving violations. If a person has not taken a Driver Safety Course in the last 12 months, they are eligible to have their case dismissed if they complete the course and pay a fee.
- Here’s another sample deferred agreement for driving without insurance (formerly called “Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility”). If a person maintains insurance and a valid license and pays the fee within 180 days, they can have their charges dismissed.
What happens if I meet the deferred disposition conditions?
If you successfully complete the terms of the deferred disposition and the case is dismissed, you will usually be eligible to have the records expunged.
See I Want to Expunge My Record for more info.