Nevada "Stay of Adjudication"Laws
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

A stay of adjudication in Nevada allows some defendants to escape conviction by agreeing to perform various court orders such as rehab or community service in Nevada.  When the defendant finishes these requirements, the judge will dismiss the case.

An experienced Nevada criminal defense lawyer may be able to persuade the judge to agree to a stay of adjudication, which would keep the defendant's criminal record from ever showing a "guilty" verdict.  Keep reading to learn how stays of adjudication work in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What is a stay of adjudication in Las Vegas, NV?

A stay of adjudication (also called "deferred adjudication" in Las Vegas, Nevada) is when the judge postpones making a ruling on a criminal case until the defendant fulfills (or fails to fulfill) certain court orders such as paying a fine.  If the defendant completes the requirements, the judge will dismiss the case.  Otherwise, the judge will convict the defendant of the underlying charge.

What are the benefits of a stay of adjudication?

A stay of adjudication is like a "delayed dismissal" of criminal charges in Nevada.  As long as the defendant follows the court orders, the judge will not hand down a guilty verdict on the underlying charge.  Therefore, the defendant's background check will not show a conviction.

What are the downsides?

The biggest drawback is that the defendant has to enter a guilty plea on the underlying charge and therefore give up his/her right to a trial.  This doesn't really make a difference as long as the defendant completes the terms of the stay.  But if the defendant doesn't complete the terms, the judge may use the plea to convict the defendant of the underlying charge without a trial.

Furthermore, judges make defendants work hard to reap the benefits of a stay of adjudication.  Depending on the underlying charge, the judge may impose probationary terms including:

  • fines
  • community service
  • counseling
  • classes
  • rehab
  • drug tests
  • jail or house-arrest
What happens if the defendant violates the terms?

If the prosecution believes that the defendant violated court orders, then the defendant is entitled to a court hearing on the alleged violation.  Remember that the defendant is not entitled to a trial on the underlying criminal charge.

How does a defendant get a stay of adjudication?

It depends on the case.  Sometimes the defense attorney and prosecutor negotiate a deal that includes a stay of adjudication.  Sometimes the judge grants it on his/her own authority.  Sometimes the right to a stay of adjudication is written into the law itself.

For example stays of adjudication are standard in first offense Nevada drug possession cases.  If the defendant completes a drug education program, rehab, and/or any other requirements the court imposes, the judge will dismiss the proceedings without entering a conviction.

Does a stay of adjudication keep the defendant's criminal record clean?

Yes and no.  A stay of adjudication keeps a conviction from showing up on the defendant's criminal record (unless the defendant violates the terms of the stay).  But successfully completing the terms of a stay of adjudication does not prevent the defendant's initial arrest or citation from showing up on their record.  There is a way to fix this, though . . .

Once the judge dismisses a case following a stay of adjudication, the defendant may immediately petition the court to seal the Nevada criminal record in order to hide the arrest.  Once this is done the defendant's background check will no longer show any record of the arrest or citation of the underlying charge.

What's the difference between a stay of adjudication and a "submittal"?

A submittal in Nevada works very similarly to a stay of adjudication:  In both circumstances, the court delays judgment until after the defendant performs various court orders.  If the defendant is successful, the judge will then dismiss the case without ever having entered a conviction.  But there're two key differences:

  1. Submittals are available only in Nevada misdemeanor cases, not Nevada felony cases.
  2. Submittals do not require that the defendant enter a guilty plea first.

Therefore submittals are always preferable to stays of adjudication if possible.

Arrested?  Call us . . . .

If you've been accused of a crime, Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys may be able to get your case dismissed with or without a stay of adjudication.  Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation on your options.  Their goal is to try to negotiate or litigate your charges so your record remains clean.


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