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Understanding the Implications of Probation Before Judgement

PBJ—It’s More Than a Sandwich

Understanding the Implications of Probation Before Judgement

When we refer to PBJ in our law firm, we are not referring to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Around here, it’s a serious notion. From a legal perspective, PBJ stands for Probation Before Judgment, a phrase you may hear an attorney use in connection with your case. In essence, Probation Before Judgment means that the defendant is placed on probation before a judgment has been entered in connection with their case. In other words, if you receive a PBJ you have not been found guilty of the crime, but you are immediately placed on probation, which comes with certain benefits for the defendant.

Who is Eligible for a PBJ in Maryland?

Drunk driving offenses are the most common charges to be eligible for Probation Before Judgment. This holds true for both DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges. However, a PBJ is only an option for drunk driving offenses if the charged individual is a first-time offender, the only exception to this rule is if the previous offense was at least 10 years ago.

There are several benefits to receive a PBJ in connection with a charge, as follows:

Advantages of a Probation Before Judgment

• Your insurance rates will not go up as PBJ records are not public, and they are, therefore, not accessible to insurance companies.

• You do not receive any points on your driving record and with a PBJ, an individual usually avoids any consequences from the MVA.

Am I Entering a Guilty Plea?

With a PBJ, you must make a guilty plea. However, there are different forms of guilty pleas. The one most frequently used in connection with a PBJ is referred to as a “Not Guilty Agreed Statement,” which indicates the defendant is pleading not guilty but agrees to the statement of facts. The agreed statement of facts is either the narrative portion of the police report or the statement of probable cause.

The judge will hear the facts of the case, reading from the statement of charges, and typically find the defendant guilty. However, the judge then has the option to strike the guilty finding and enter it as a PBJ instead. In short, under these circumstances, you are entering into probation without a conviction.

Can a Probation Before Judgment be Expunged?

While PBJs for driving under the influence ,or driving while intoxicated cannot be expunged, certain other cases of PBJ can be, once three years pass from the date of disposition or the time at which the defendant has been discharged from probation. You can also expunge the PBJ if the offense is no longer considered a crime.

If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, you should be aware that there is a strong possibility that you will face harsh punishments in court. These often include charges that go on your permanent criminal record and additional long-term consequences to your ability to obtain car insurance and even to get a job. If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, contact our office as soon as possible, to make arrangements to meet with one of our experienced attorneys. They are well versed in the law and will help you to consider your options and fight for the best possible outcome. In some cases, a PBJ may be the best option to avoid more severe consequences. Our attorneys will help you to achieve that result or, if that is not possible, review your case to pursue the most beneficial course of action for you.