Maryland Probation Before Judgment
Under Maryland law, probation before judgment (PBJ) refers to a defendant being placed on probation before a judgment has been entered in their case. This means that the individual has not been found guilty of the crime with which they have been charged. Probation before judgment can serve as a great benefit for people who are charged with DUI in the state of Maryland. The defendant will have the ability to answer truthfully that they have never been convicted of a crime on any job application, and their automobile insurance rates will probably not increase. An experienced Maryland DUI attorney with a history of seeking out PBJ as an option for their clients will be able to help you explore this opportunity should you find yourself facing a DUI charge.
When Probation Before Judgment Is Available
The specific rules that govern PBJs for DUIs as well as other offenses in the state of Maryland are found in Section 6-220 of Maryland Criminal Procedure.
Probation before judgment in Maryland is available in the following situations:
- A first time DWI or DUI offense, or in a situation where you have not had a PBJ or conviction for DUI/DWI in the past ten years;
- When an individual has violated the state’s controlled dangerous substance laws for the first time;
- For first time charges of certain misdemeanor or felony violations under Maryland law; and
- For repeat offenses, unless it is statutorily prohibited, where the defendant is able to demonstrate in court that they are able to be successfully rehabilitated with treatment provided through probation before judgment.
The following is a list of situations in which probation before judgment is not available:
- For any second DWI or DUI conviction within ten years;
- For second or subsequent violations of the controlled dangerous substances laws in the state;
- For any first offense sex crimes against a child; and
- In instances where the alleged crime has a specific minimum penalty. Some examples of this would be certain instances of violent crimes, handgun offenses, and narcotics–related crimes.
Helpful Pointers Regarding PBJs
It is important to understand as a defendant that the majority of Maryland judges view probation before judgment as something that is earned, which means it may not be automatically awarded for all first offenses. When you appear before the judge, you should exhibit proper behavior and ensure that the presentation of your case and appearance are suitable for the courtroom. This helps to show that you take the situation seriously and understand the gravity of being charged with a criminal offense.
Situations Not Eligible
While a judge is able to grant PBJ for many first-time convictions, you may not receive the option if the following circumstances apply:
- DUIs that involve any type of accident;
- DUIs in which the defendant had a high blood alcohol content;
- When large quantities of drugs are present; and
- Crimes that involve violence.
There are some situations in which this may not be the best option for your particular set of circumstances. For example, you will be on probation for a certain period of time, in most cases supervised. That means if you do happen to violate the terms of your probation, you will face the entire original sentence when you are brought back to court. For example, if you were given a PBJ for a second degree assault charge and you wind up violating your probation, you could face as many as ten years in prison. Additionally, once you receive a PBJ, you will give up the right for an appeal. Other situations in which probation before judgment may not be in your best interest include if you are not a U.S. citizen, if you have a commercial driver’s license, or if you have any type of security clearance.
A Maryland Attorney Can Help With Your Probation Before Judgment Case
The bottom line is that each case, judge, and client is unique. While a Maryland probation before judgment sentencing is a beneficial option, it is not always guaranteed. If you have been charged with a drunk driving-related offense, a qualified attorney can help you fight the charges. Call our law office today for a free case evaluation and to find out whether probation before judgment is a viable option for you.