Withheld adjudication generally refers to a decision by a judge to put a person on probation without an adjudication of guilt. It means a person is not found guilty legally by the court. If the person successfully completes the terms of probation and has no subsequent offenses, no further action with be taken on the case and the offense for which adjudication was withheld is typically not considered a prior conviction for purposes of habitual offender sentencing. If the person does not complete the terms of probation, a finding of guilty may be entered and the person may be sentenced according to the punishments defined for the offense.
The following is an example of a state statute involving withheld adjudication:
"(9) Any person who is cited for an infraction under this section other than a violation of s. 320.0605, s. 320.07(3)(a) or (b), s. 322.065, s. 322.15(1), s. 322.61, or s. 322.62 may, in lieu of a court appearance, elect to attend in the location of his or her choice within this state a basic driver improvement course approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In such a case, adjudication must be withheld; points, as provided by s. 322.27, may not be assessed; and the civil penalty that is imposed by s. 318.18(3) must be reduced by 18 percent; however, a person may not make an election under this subsection if the person has made an election under this subsection in the preceding 12 months. A person may make no more than five elections under this subsection. The requirement for community service under s. 318.18(8) is not waived by a plea of nolo contendere or by the withholding of adjudication of guilt by a court.
(10)(a) Any person cited for an offense listed under this subsection may, in lieu of payment of fine or court appearance, elect to enter a plea of nolo contendere and provide proof of compliance to the clerk of the court or authorized operator of a traffic violations bureau. In such case, adjudication shall be withheld; however, no election shall be made under this subsection if such person has made an election under this subsection in the 12 months preceding election hereunder. No person may make more than three elections under this subsection. This subsection applies to the following offenses: