Can You Appeal Deferred Adjudication In Texas ?
In 1975, the Texas Legislature first enacted our deferred adjudication statute, which provides in part:
(a) . . . When in the trial judge's opinion the best interest of society and the defendant will be served, the judge may, after receiving a plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere, hearing the evidence, and finding that it substantiates the defendant's guilt, defer further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt, and place the defendant on community supervision. . . . . However, upon written motion of the defendant requesting final adjudication filed within 30 days after entering such plea and the deferment of adjudication, the judge shall proceed to final adjudication as in all other cases.
(b) on violation of a condition of community supervision imposed under Subsection (a) of this section, the defendant may be arrested and detained . . . . the defendant is entitled to a hearing limited to the determination by the court of whether it proceeds with an adjudication of guilt on the original charge. No appeal may be taken from this determination. After an adjudication of guilt, all proceedings, including assessment of punishment, pronouncement of sentence, granting of community supervision, and defendant's appeal continue as if the adjudication of guilt had not been deferred. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 42.12, 5(a), (b) (Vernon Supp. 2000).
In 1981, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that the "clear import" of the statute was to preclude appellate review of an order deferring adjudication. McDougal v. State, 610 S.W.2d 509, 509 (Tex. Crim. App. 1981).
The court explained that if a defendant was dissatisfied with the decision to defer adjudication or with the terms and conditions of the order, his proper remedy was to move for final adjudication as provided in Article 42.12, 5(a). Id.
After adjudication of guilt, a defendant's normal appellate remedies were available to him under Article 42.12, 5(b), which provides, "After an adjudication of guilt, all proceedings, including assessment of punishment, pronouncement of sentence, granting of community supervision, and defendant's appeal continue as if the adjudication of guilt had not been deferred." TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 42.12, 5(b).
At that time, a defendant whose deferred adjudication probation was revoked could appeal from that revocation and raise a claim of error arising from the original plea proceeding. David v. State, 704 S.W.2d 766, 767 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985) (citing Article 42.12, 5(b)).
In 1987, the Legislature enacted Article 44.01(j) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides that a defendant may appeal where punishment is assessed in conformance with the deferred adjudication statute. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 44.01(j) (Vernon Supp. 2000).