Everyone charged with a crime in Maryland is concerned about the potential outcome, especially those with no prior criminal record. These defendants in Maryland are prime candidates for a PBJ offer from the court, which is also known technically in the Maryland statutes as a “probation before judgment” court order. It is similar to a deferred judgment in other states.
How PBJ works
After defendants are arraigned in court, case negotiations begin. Almost all cases are negotiated before an actual trial, which means that criminal defense attorneys will evaluate all articles of evidence and defend the accused accordingly. For defendants who may qualify, the court can place them on probation while awaiting a potential trial. They must complete probation terms with no subsequent criminal incidents. Upon successful probation completion, the case would be set for a dismissal hearing.
Other advantages of a PBJ
Avoiding jail is not the only benefit of being given probation before judgment is offered by the court. Completion of the probationary period eliminates the need for a court pleading. This can be an effective case defense even in a DUI case because it avoids a conviction at the time of adjudication.
Case expungement may also be allowable after three to five years with some restrictions. DUI cases cannot be expunged at any time following probation before judgment order, and they would still be reflected on any subsequent criminal history report for the next 10 years. The PBJ authorization is also reported on the criminal history until expunged.
Avoiding a criminal conviction in any case in Maryland is typically the goal of a criminal defense presentation when a case dismissal cannot be negotiated. The PBJ law allows for this possibility with some defendants.