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Adjudication vs. Adjudication Withheld

It is often asked what the difference between being adjudicated and having adjudication withheld means. A formal adjudication is just as it sounds, you are dubbed "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 still likely go on probation, have it on your record, and have other sanctions.

There are some major differences that you should be aware of. 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. Most employers and applications now ask if you have ever been adjudicated or had adjudication withheld to get around this; some will ask simply if you have ever been arrested.

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 (marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, etc.), then the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for two years. Your license will not be suspended if adjudication is withheld. This rule even goes for a misdemeanor amount of marijuana.

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