In a previous blog, we discussed how obtaining a stet – getting your case placed on the inactive docket at the courthouse — can be a good result in a criminal case. Another possible result and one that can be used to good advantage in Baltimore and Ocean City criminal law and Baltimore and Ocean City traffic cases is probation before judgment.
Probation before judgment is commonly called a “PBJ.” In a PBJ, a defendant is basically placed on probation before judgment is entered, this means the defendant is not found guilty of a crime.
Who Qualifies for a Baltimore PBJ or Ocean City PBJ?
Although a PBJ can be granted for most Baltimore and Ocean City first-time charges, there are instances where a PBJ won’t be possible. It is rare to be offered a PBJ for violent crimes such as robbery, crimes involving large quantities of drugs, a DUI/DWI with a high blood alcohol content and DWI/DUI’s with accidents.
A PBJ might be available in some second offense circumstances. For example, if you only have one previous Baltimore or Ocean City DUI offense and it was at least 10 years ago, you might be able to get a PBJ. A PBJ might be available even after a guilty finding at trial.
But you have to ask for a PBJ, it is not automatically given as most judges view a PBJ as something that has to be earned. Granting the PBJ is up to the judge.
How a PBJ Works
If the judge allows you to take a PBJ, you are agreeing to be placed directly on probation. Probation conditions can include restitution, anger management training, driver improvement program, alcohol treatment, community service, even the requirement to read a book and prepare a book report.
You will be on probation for a number of years. The length of the probation depends on the Baltimore or Ocean City criminal law offense. The maximum length of time for a PBJ in District Court is three years. The maximum length of time for a PBJ in Maryland Circuit Court is five years.
Probation in a PBJ may be supervised or unsupervised.
Once all the conditions of the probation before judgement have been completed, only law enforcement officials will be able to see the PBJ so the information will not show up on your publicly available criminal record.
Advantages of a PBJ
There are benefits to obtaining a Baltimore or Ocean City PBJ.
If you get a PBJ, you can say that you were not found guilty of the crime with which you were charged. Even though in recent years there has been a movement away from private sector employers asking about criminal history except for a narrow range of jobs, when asked whether you have ever been convicted or pled guilty to a crime, you can say, “No.”
However, there is evidence that public sector employers such as the federal government and federal contractors may treat a PBJ as a conviction.
When applying to college, you don’t have to inform the college or university about the charged crime because there was no guilty plea.
Another benefit of obtaining a PBJ is that it does not result in an increase in insurance rates. Insurers will not find out about the incident because you never formally pled guilty to the charged crime.
In a PBJ for a traffic violation, no points are assessed against your driving record.
Only law enforcement officers have access to your PBJ agreement, not the public.
Disadvantages of Probation Before Judgment
A Baltimore or Ocean City PBJ does come with some disadvantages.
You face the entire sentence if you are brought before the judge in a violation of probation.
You have to give up your right to appeal.
A PBJ can be expunged after the probationary period is satisfied. Expungement is the process of asking the court to remove certain court and police records from public view. However, some charges, such as certain alcohol-related driving offenses can’t be expunged.
If you are facing criminal charges in Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Glen Burnie, Ocean City, Towson or White Marsh, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you to determine if a probation before judgment is a possible remedy for your criminal charges. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Glen Burnie, Ocean City, Towson or White Marsh criminal defense matters.
The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410-885-1775 or via our website for a free consultation.