What is a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) Disposition?

July 24, 2012

What is a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) Disposition in Maryland?

After a defendant enters a guilty plea, or is found guilty by the judge or jury, the next step in a case is sentencing. However, in some cases, the judge strikes the guilty finding and offers the defendant Probation Before Judgment, or a PBJ (not the sandwich).

Unlike a guilty disposition, a PBJ is NOT a conviction, but requires a period of supervised or unsupervised probation. A PBJ is NOT a conviction, but requires a period of supervised or unsupervised probation. The defendant must successfully complete the probation. That means he or she must comply with all of the conditions the judge imposes, such as community service, and not get into any more trouble.

If the defendant successfully completes his or her probation, the defendant may be able to file an expungement request and have the case go away. Unless the defendant files for an expungement, the case stays on Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search where anyone can look up the case.

Since a PBJ is not a conviction, the defendant can truthfully say he or she has never been convicted of a crime.

When you can and cannot get a Probation Before Judgment:

PBJs are sometimes considered for cases where the defendant has decided to make a positive change in his or her life, whether that means seeking treatment for their actions or involving themselves in community service prior to standing before a judge.

Defendants may be eligible for a Probation Before Judgment disposition for cases involving:

  • first time DUI or DWI offenses;
  • first time violation of certain Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) laws;
  • first time felony or misdemeanor offense (except those listed below); or
  • certain repeat offenses where the defendant can demonstrate that he or she will benefit from treatment through a PBJ.

Defendants may be ineligible for a PBJ disposition for cases involving:

  • a second DUI or DWI offense within ten years;
  • a second violation of any Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) law;
  • a first time sex crime against a child;
  • a crime with a mandatory minimum sentence; or
  • any traffic violations committed while driving with a provisional license or an established PBJ.

In Maryland, the judge has discretion over whether or not he or she will impose a Probation Before Judgment. There is no guarantee in any case that a judge will offer a PBJ as each case, judge, and defendant is different. Many cases, especially ones that involve first time offenders, can be seen as a significant impediment to the defendant’s life or career if he or she were to be criminally convicted. Probation Before Judgment dispositions are a way of giving the defendant a second chance, by helping them enter into treatment or educational classes, while maintaining the threat of strict consequences if he or she were to refuse that help or commit another crime.

If you are charged with a crime in Maryland, be sure to contact an attorney with Cochran and Chhabra at 888-268-5515.

The law office of Cochran & Chhabra has provided this website and its content for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be legal advice or counsel. Your use of this site and its content does not construct a lawyer-client relationship with Cochran & Chhabra. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your particular situation.

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