Stucco and Expansion joints

Is stucco without expansion/control joints considered a true deficiency?
Or are such joints considered best practice?

Thanks much.

I would say a true deficiency. Also it was likely in the prints and in the code books for your location.

How big of an area are you talking about?

What do you think would happen to sidewalks without the crack that breaks your Mamas back?

Is the stucco over wood frame? If yes, see ASTM C-1063 and ASTM C-926 for standards for stucco application. These standards are typically referenced in the model codes (ICC, etc…). i.e- incorporated into the codes via reference. In answer to your question, yes, control joints are typically required. The ASTM standards above specify maximum areas for stucco without a control joint.