Monday, August 18, 2008

Out of whack

You can get deferred adjudication for murder, rape and burglary in the State of Texas -- but not for the heinous offense of driving while intoxicated.

Deferred adjudication, sometimes referred to (tongue-in-cheek) as deferred prosecution, is a carrot-and-stick sentence in which a citizen is placed on probation for a period of time and, should he complete the terms of that probation, the case is subsequently dismissed. The citizen then has the right to an order of nondisclosure of all records related to the case and can deny, under oath, that he was ever charged with the offense. It must be pointed out, however, that some offenses are not eligible for non-disclosure.

Deferred can offer a first-time offender a "do-over" should he or she get back on track -- though the penalties for screwing up can be quite severe.

But if you're unfortunate enough to be arrested for DWI -- a misdemeanor -- that option is unavailable and, unless the case is dismissed or you are found not guilty at trial, you will forever be labeled as a CRIMINAL by the State of Texas.

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