Probation before judgment is a way of resolving a criminal case without a criminal conviction. If you have no prior criminal record or only previous minor charges, you may be eligible for probation before judgment.
Probation before judgment is a sentence of probation without a conviction being placed on your criminal record. It is also commonly referred to as PBJ.
PBJ is available either after a guilty plea or a trial verdict of guilty. If the judge grants a PBJ, you will need to meet certain conditions. For a DWI/DUI or drug offense, this almost always includes completing an alcohol or drug treatment program.
If you fail to complete the conditions of probation or violate your probation, the judge has the option to revoke your probation, record the conviction, and/or impose up to the maximum sentence for the original offense.
The primary benefit to PBJ is that you will not have a criminal record as long as you complete the probation conditions. You can truthfully state in employment and housing applications that you have never been convicted of a crime.
You may also be eligible to have your record expunged so that it does not even show that you were ever charged with a crime.
Probation before judgment is an option for first-time offenses including the following:
The judge also has the discretion to consider PBJ for repeat offenses except the following:
Even when PBJ is allowed by law, the judge has complete discretion whether or not to grant it. The judge will consider the seriousness of the charges, your past criminal record, and whether the crime involved violence, children, or large quantities of drugs. You must show that it is in the public interest for the judge to grant the PBJ.
Your attorney can help you make this legal argument and prepare you to make a statement showing remorse during sentencing. If your goal is to avoid a conviction, your attorney can seek a plea bargain that includes PBJ as a condition of you pleading guilty. Your attorney will also help you determine whether any special circumstances, such as your immigration status or security clearance, make PBJ not in your best interests.