When you are involved in a criminal case, it’s normal to worry about the severity and kind of penalty you will receive while awaiting judgment. With most cases, however, the courts will offer less severe charges to defendants they deem deserving in exchange for the offender’s completion of specific requirements.
What is a PBJ Plea?
Probation before judgment, commonly know as PBJ, is a deferred adjudication which offers those involved in criminal cases the chance to avoid a formal conviction or have their case dismissed entirely. In these hearings, the defendant makes a PBJ plea of either “guilty” or “no contest” to the criminal charges assessed and receives probation subject to reasonable conditions. The probation period may require treatment, community service, or participation in another diversion, and can additionally grant record expungement and/or orders of non-disclosure.
Why is a PBJ Plea Ideal for Offenders?
The reason this plea deal was initially established was to give offenders the opportunity to avoid having a criminal record. If you work in Maryland, you may have been subjected to a background check before your employment began. Oftentimes, employers will refuse to hire those with criminal backgrounds, so the PBJ plea is attractive to offenders who do not yet have a record and want to find employment without having to worry about this hindrance.
What Do the Courts Need in Order to Accept a PBJ Plea?
Probation before judgment is not always accepted by the courts. In order to grant PBJ, the judge will need to have reasonable belief that the defendant is unlikely to repeat the same or a similar offense. For certain cases, the courts will also want to ensure that the offender has undergone an evaluation and attended any programs or received treatment in order to demonstrate that they have an understanding of their offense and have taken responsibility for their actions.
How Can a Lawyer Assist Me With a PBJ in Mt. Airy?
Once you are convicted of a crime, your attorney will seek probation before judgment. Additionally, when your guilty plea is made, they will seek terms that are fair to you as their client, including:
- No prosecutor opposition of PBJ
- No jail time for first offenders
- Reasonable incarceration terms for repeat offenders
- Amount of restitution
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