What Is a Stay of Adjudication?

Many believe the only outcome in a Nevada criminal case is either a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict, but that’s not true. Depending on the alleged criminal act, defendants may have additional options to avoid the worst possible outcome of a conviction. One of these potential options is a “stay of adjudication,” in which a judge agrees to seal and dismiss a defendant’s charges in exchange for the defendant meeting certain conditions.

While a stay of adjudication is not possible in every Nevada criminal case, it’s worthwhile to pursue if available. The Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group can assist you in seeking a stay of adjudication for your case and represent you in any necessary court hearings.

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Stay of Adjudication

How a Stay of Adjudication Works in Nevada

A stay of adjudication, also called a deferred judgment, offers Nevada defendants an opportunity to avoid the severe consequences of a formal conviction. There are five basic steps in this process:

  • The defendant pleads guilty or no contest: To obtain a stay of adjudication, the defendant must plead guilty or no contest to the charges against them. It’s important to realize that entering a guilty or no contest plea means the defendant gives up their right to trial.
  • The judge imposes terms or conditions: Next, the judge will order the defendant to meet certain conditions during the stay of adjudication. These conditions might include community service, attending counseling sessions, or other rehabilitative measures.
  • The defendant completes the required terms and conditions: This is where the hard work comes in. The defendant needs to tick all the boxes on their checklist, demonstrating their commitment to making positive changes.
  • The judge dismisses the case: If the defendant completes their required terms and conditions, the judge will officially dismiss the case. This means the defendant won’t have a conviction on their record.
  • The court seals the record of the defendant’s condition: This is the final step of the process. Once the defendant completes the terms and conditions of their stay of adjudication, the court seals the record. It won’t show up on background checks. However, the initial citation or arrest record might still be visible, though there are ways to seal these records as well.

What Happens If a Defendant Doesn’t Comply with the Judge’s Terms?

When a defendant fails to meet the judge’s terms under a stay of adjudication, the situation takes a serious turn. Since the defendant already pleaded guilty or no contest, the judge can convict them without a trial. It’s as if the defendant’s earlier agreement backfires, leading directly to a conviction. This means all the potential benefits of the stay of adjudication, like avoiding a formal conviction and getting a clean slate, vanish.

Stay of Execution

The other “stay” available under Nevada law is a stay of execution. A court can stay a sentence to pay a fine or a fine and court costs if the defendant appeals the decision. If a person has been convicted of a crime and appeals that conviction, the sentence of imprisonment can be stayed until the appeal is complete. Similarly, a stay of execution can be granted for a death sentence if the defendant files an appeal.

Stay of Adjudication vs. Submittal

A submittal in a Nevada criminal case works similarly to a stay of adjudication, but there are also essential differences. Submittals in Nevada allow for dismissing a misdemeanor charge without the defendant having to plead guilty. Instead, the defendant “submits” to the charge, agreeing to fulfill certain requirements like paying a fine or attending a class. Upon completion of the agreed-upon terms, the court dismisses the charge. As with a stay of adjudication, failing to meet the conditions of submittal will result in an automatic guilty verdict.

Because defendants don’t have to plead guilty or contest for a submittal in Nevada, it’s a better option than a stay of adjudication. However, submittals are generally unavailable for those with prior convictions and are limited to certain misdemeanors.

Criminal Cases Where a Deferred Judgment Might Be Available

In general, first-time offenders charged with less serious or nonviolent crimes are more likely to receive a stay of adjudication. There are also certain offenses where the law says the courts must offer a stay of adjudication. For example, Nevada law says most defendants facing a first or second drug possession charge qualify for a stay of adjudication, provided they meet the court’s terms.

On the other hand, there are certain offenses for which defendants are legally barred from receiving a stay of adjudication. According to the Nevada statute regarding deferred judgments, those offenses include:

  • Violent crimes (murder, manslaughter, assault, battery, etc.)
  • Sex crimes
  • Crimes against children

How We Can Help You Receive a Stay of Adjudication

Except in specific circumstances, the courts do not have to offer a stay of adjudication or submittal. However, hiring an experienced and capable defense attorney can increase your chances of receiving a stay of adjudication and avoiding the worst possible consequences of a conviction. Here’s how our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers can help in these situations:

  • Evaluating Eligibility: We can assess whether your case qualifies for a stay of adjudication based on Nevada law.
  • Strategic Defense: The first step in receiving a stay of adjudication is to convince the prosecutor and judge that you deserve a second chance. We can develop a tailored defense strategy that highlights factors in your favor.
  • Negotiation: We can handle negotiations with the prosecution to agree on a stay of adjudication, leveraging our legal experience and negotiation skills.
  • Guidance on Conditions: We can advise you on how to meet the court’s conditions effectively and efficiently.
  • Documentation and Paperwork: We’ll handle all the necessary legal documents and court submissions on your behalf.
  • Monitoring Compliance: We’ll work with you to ensure you stay compliant with all court-imposed conditions to avoid jeopardizing the stay of adjudication.
  • Representation: Depending on the case, we can represent you in all court appearances, potentially without you needing to appear.
  • Record Sealing Advice: Finally, we can provide advice and assistance with sealing the record of your initial arrest or citation upon successful completion of the stay of adjudication.

Contact Our Las Vegas Defense Attorneys Now for Help with a Stay of Adjudication

A stay of adjudication is a much better alternative to conviction in a Nevada criminal case, but it’s crucial to work with an attorney who understands the procedures and can effectively represent your interests. Call the De Castroverde Law Group today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.