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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Joseph Soler

What is the difference between Adjudication of Guilt and Adjudication Withheld in a criminal case?

We are often asked what the difference between being adjudicated guilty and having adjudication withheld means. A formal adjudication is just as it sounds, you are found "guilty" of a crime and your record will reflect that. Receiving a withhold of adjudication means you are sentenced and found to have committed the crime alleged, but you are not found "guilty".

For the most part, these two do not differ in the outcome--you will be sentenced by the judge and the charge will still be on your record.

There are some major differences that you should be aware of, though. First, if an employer asks "have you ever been found guilty or convicted of a crime?" you can generally say "no" if you received a withhold whereas you cannot if you were adjudicated guilty.

Another major difference pertains to certain sanctions involving drug crimes in Florida. In Florida, if you are adjudicated guilty of a possession of a controlled substance (cocaine, oxycodone, etc.) then the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license. Your license will not be suspended if adjudication is withheld. This rule applies for misdemeanor charges such as possession of marijuana as well as felony drug possession charges like possession of pills, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.

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