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How do I get a PBJ and what does it mean?

posted by Christian Ashin & Brown on: 12/07/11 in category: Criminal Defense | tags:

PBJ stands for “probation before judgment,” which is a common term used describe a deferred adjudication.  It is governed by state law and varies by state. In fact, it is not available in all states and is not available for federal offenses.

In Maryland PBJ is used frequently by District and Circuit Court Judges, and is found in Criminal Procedure Code Section 6-220. The most important aspect of a PBJ is that it is not a “guilty” finding. With websites like casesearch.courts.state.md.us, your criminal and traffic records are available to anyone.

For instance, a prospective employer could find a prior conviction by doing a simple and free search of your records. Obviously, if you are charged with a crime or traffic offense, getting a PBJ should be right at the top of your list, just below “not guilty.”

Essentially, if you are able to convince a judge that you take the charges seriously and that what you are charged with will not happen again, a judge may be willing to give you a PBJ, put you on probation and have you pay a fine. The conditions and duration of probation often vary based on the offense. Assuming you are able to avoid violating your probation, you are then able to have the record expunged three years after the date of the court appearance. That means no one will be able to find the conviction anymore.

PBJs are not only available for criminal offenses, but for traffic offenses as well. A PBJ is truly something to take advantage of, even for relatively minor traffic offenses.

Take, for instance, what may seem like a relatively harmless traffic offense, such as reckless driving. A conviction will be forwarded to the MVA and will prompt them to put 6 points on your license! Conversely, a PBJ, since it is not a guilty finding, will not cause anything to happen with the MVA. It amazes me how many people simply pay a ticket like that instead of requesting a trial, hiring an attorney, and trying to get a PBJ.

So how do you get one? Well, if it is a first offense, that’s a good start, but even if it’s a second offense you may be able to get a PBJ. Start by calling a lawyer.

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