In Texas, a conviction is a finding of guilt. Until recently they were permanent marks on your criminal record that basically tattooed on your forehead the word, “criminal” really specifically. In fact, it would say you were arrested, charged, and found guilty of whatever specific crime had been leveled against you: prostitution, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, etc.
There are a few ways to wind up with a conviction. You could fight your charge in a trial and lose. That would result in a conviction and a sentence of either jail or prison time, a fine, some combination of the two, or probation. You could also plead guilty and be found guilty right then and there by the judge. The judge could sentence you to confinement (jail or prison), a fine, nothing at all (a plea we call, “time-served.”) or probation. Probation where the judge finds you guilty right away practitioners commonly call, “straight probation.”
Another way of putting it is the only way you don’t have a conviction if you were charged with a crime is if: 1) your case was dismissed, 2) you went to trial and won, or 3) you received a special kind of probation called “deferred adjudication” learn more.
One important final note about convictions: different states and different agencies of the federal government have their own legal definitions of, “conviction.” So, for example, under federal immigration law, even a dismissal may be considered a “conviction” under certain circumstances.*