Getting a speeding ticket may cause you to worry about your driving record, but a deferred disposition can remedy the situation and keep your driving record clean. A deferred disposition means your sentence is suspended. At the time of your plea, the judge will postpone your sentence but reserve the right to impose it at a later date if you do not comply with certain conditions. A deferred disposition may apply to traffic cases and certain low-level criminal cases.
When a Deferred Disposition Applies
In Texas, you can seek a deferred disposition for traffic violations, such as speeding tickets, or Class C misdemeanors, which are low-level crimes, including theft, assault and public intoxication. For traffic cases, you can request a deferred disposition at your court hearing or prior to the hearing by phone, mail or in person. However, a request by mail does not apply to all traffic offenses, and not everyone will qualify for a deferred disposition depending on the nature of the offense or the number of deferred dispositions in your history.
Conditions of Deferred Disposition
A judge, in his discretion, may impose a variety of conditions during the deferral period. The deferral period can be up to 180 days, but it may be less depending on the initial charge and required conditions. These conditions may include posting bond to ensure payment of a fine, paying restitution to the victim, submitting to a psychological assessment and not committing any crimes. For traffic offenses, the conditions may include attending a driving safety course and not committing any traffic offenses. Formal probation is not a condition of a deferred disposition.
Imposition of Sentence
If you have not completed all of your conditions by the end of the deferral period, you may be found guilty of the original offense and a judge will either impose the originally assessed fine or a lesser one. At your final deferral hearing, you will have the opportunity to explain why you were not able to complete all the conditions. If the judge finds your explanation satisfactory, you may be found not guilty despite your failure to comply with all conditions, but this is entirely in the judge's discretion.
Dismissal of Charge
If you have completed all the conditions of your deferral, including paying fines and fees, by the end of the deferral period, the judge will dismiss your charges. When the charge is dismissed, there is no final conviction and records relating to the charge can be expunged. In Texas, expungement means the records associated with your case are destroyed.