Maryland Probation Before Judgment (PBJ)

In the Maryland criminal defense world “PBJ” has a very different meaning than in the elementary school world. Instead of referring to a popular variety of sandwich, PBJ is an acronym for “probation before judgment.” So what is this and how does it work? Keep reading, and if you have any further questions, consult with a Maryland DUI/DWI lawyer.

What does Probation Before Judgment mean?

Probation before judgment means that a person has been placed on probation before any criminal judgment has ever been entered against them. This means that rather than pleading guilty to an offense, a person is immediately placed on probation.

Who is eligible for a PBJ in Maryland?

PBJ is limited to drunk driving offenses and can only be claimed by those charged with either a DUI or DWI. PBJ is an option open only to first time offenders in Maryland. However, there is a small caveat to this limitation. The law actually says that those people with only one previous DUI offense can still receive a PBJ if their previous offense was at least 10 years ago. The provisions regarding probation before judgment are codified under the Maryland Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 6-220 (accessible here).

So how does a PBJ work?

So now that you know what a PBJ is and who can get one, how does it work? When a judge decides to allow a person to take a PBJ, that person is agreeing to be placed directly on probation, never pleading guilty to anything. The way the program works is that once all the requirements of probation have been completed, such as alcohol treatment, community service, etc., then that person will never have to have the incident recorded on their publicly available criminal record. Assuming probation is properly completed, only law enforcement officials will be able to see the PBJ.

The Benefits Of Probation Before Judgment?

The real question is why should you care about a PBJ. Here’s why: PBJs are great because they allow you to truthfully say that you have never been found guilty of a crime. Though this may seem like a technicality, this can be a huge benefit to those filling out job applications. When asked whether you’ve ever been convicted or pled guilty to a crime you can truthfully say “No”.

Another benefit of a PBJ is that it does not result in skyrocketing insurance rates. Insurers do not find out about the incident because you never formally pled guilty. Only law enforcement officials have access to your PBJ agreement, not the public. You also do not have to inform your college or university of any criminal convictions, again, because there was never a formal guilty plea.

Retaining Legal Counsel in Maryland

Being charged with a DUI or a DWI in the state of Maryland can be a traumatic experience. The possibility of a criminal conviction and the collateral consequences associated with the conviction can seem overwhelming. However, for a first-time offense, probation before judgment can negate much of consequences of a DUI. A skilled Maryland DUI/DWI lawyer will be intimately familiar with the state’s criminal justice system, and will employ various strategies to better the chances of a judge granting a PBJ. If you are facing a first-offense DUI or DWI, contact Maryland DUI lawyer Seth Okin today.