What Is the Difference Between a Submittal and a Stay of Adjudication in a Nevada Criminal Case?

Nevada criminal charges sometimes result in deferred adjudications, which allow a defendant to receive a reduction or dismissal of the original charge by completing specific conditions. Generally, there are two types of deferral: a submittal and a stay of adjudication. While they are similar, there are important differences. In the following discussion, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten explains what you should know about each type of deferred adjudication.

How a Stay of Adjudication Works

In a stay of adjudication, the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to the charge, but the judge postpones a ruling in the case. The court establishes specific requirements for the defendant to meet. The requirements typically involve conditions like:

  • Paying a fine
  • Paying restitution
  • Attending counseling courses or education classes
  • Completing rehabilitation or a diversion program
  • Submitting to drug tests
  • Submitting to searches by law enforcement
  • Performing community service
  • Being on house arrest for a specified period

If the defendant satisfies all the requirements, the final conviction by the court is either reduced from the original charge or dismissed. A stay of adjudication allows a defendant to earn dismissal or reduction of a charge by completing the conditions imposed by the court. Depending on the nature of the requirements, a stay of adjudication may last anywhere from a few months to several years.

To get a stay of adjudication, the defendant must plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) and thereby give up their right to trial. If the defendant completes the requirements, the judge disregards the guilty plea and dismisses the case. However, if the prosecutor believes that the defendant fails to satisfy the court-ordered requirements, the defendant is entitled to a hearing on the alleged violation. If the court finds a violation of the terms of the stay of adjudication, the judge immediately accepts the guilty or no-contest plea and convicts the defendant of the charge.

Many first-time offenders are eligible for a stay of adjudication in Nevada. Examples of offenses for which it may be possible for a defense lawyer to negotiate a stay include first-offense domestic battery and first-offense drug possession. Eligibility depends entirely on the case. A stay of adjudication is sometimes a negotiated plea between the prosecutor and defense attorney. A judge may also grant a stay on the court’s own authority. Some laws have the right to a stay of adjudication as part of the statutory provisions.

If the defendant completes the court-ordered terms and receives a dismissal following a stay of adjudication, the defendant can immediately begin the process to seal the record of the initial charge. After the record is sealed, the initial arrest or citation no longer appears on a background check.

How a Submittal Works

A submittal is a strategy that enables a defendant to plea bargain a misdemeanor down to a dismissal. Unlike a stay of adjudication, a submittal does not require the defendant to enter a plea. Instead, the defendant “submits” the charge and agrees to meet court-ordered requirements. On completion of the requirements, the court dismisses the original charge. If the defendant does not complete the conditions, the court finds the defendant guilty of the original charge and imposes a sentence.

Submittals are only available for certain misdemeanors and are also generally only available for first-time offenders. Offenses for which submittals are often used include the offenses of trespass, prostitution, and petty larceny.

To illustrate how a submittal works:  On a trespass charge, the defendant may be able to submit to trespass, pay a $150 fine, and satisfy a requirement of avoiding new arrests or citations during pendency of the case, thereby securing dismissal of the charge. If a defendant submits to prostitution, the terms may include payment of a $250 fine, attending AIDS awareness counseling, and avoiding new charges while the case is pending. For a charge of petty larceny, a submittal likely would require payment of a fine and restitution, attending petty larceny classes, and avoiding new charges.

If a defendant submits to a charge but violates the court-imposed terms, the judge will find the defendant guilty of the original charge and impose a sentence. However, if a defendant submits and completes the requirements, the court dismisses the original charge. After dismissal, the defendant may immediately petition to seal the record of the case.

Benefits of a Submittal or Stay of Adjudication

The obvious benefit of a submittal or stay of adjudication is securing dismissal of a case. In addition, a submittal or stay of adjudication that accomplishes a dismissal enables the defendant to seal the record of the offense, so it will not be shown in routine background checks. Any conviction on a record can create problems with employment, housing, and other aspects of a person’s life, so sealing the record is an important benefit.

If your case may be eligible for a submittal or stay of adjudication, representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to having the best chance for negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor for a submittal or stay of adjudication. It is not advisable for a defendant to attempt to negotiate a deferred adjudication on their own behalf without the benefit of legal counsel.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you face any state or federal criminal charge in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County, criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. His investigative background, trial experience, and criminal defense focus significantly benefit anyone facing criminal charges.

At The Gersten Law Firm, there is no charge for your initial consultation and case evaluation. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.