If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, you may think that there is nothing you can do. You could be facing jail time, fines, and/or a revoked license. You may even be worrying about the future of your career. However, you may be eligible to have those charges set aside. You or a loved one may be able to receive a probation before judgment. Known as a PBJ, if received, you can keep out of jail, as long as the conditions are met.
In Maryland, you may be able to have your charge put to the side and placed on probation before any judgment is entered. There are many advantages to getting a PBJ. You should call a Baltimore DUI lawyer to discuss your circumstances.
What is Probation Before Judgement (PBJ)?
Under Maryland Criminal Procedure Code §6-220 when a defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere or is found guilty of a crime, a court may stay the entering of judgment, defer further proceedings, and place the defendant on probation subject to reasonable conditions if:
- The court finds that the best interests of the defendant and the public welfare would be served, and
- the defendant gives written consent after determination of guilt or acceptance of a nolo contendere plea
Conditions of the probation may include an order that the defendant pay a fine to the State (clerk’s office) or make restitution or participate in a rehabilitation program. Such conditions could include partaking in drug or alcohol programs, not possessing weapons, and complying with all other laws.
All of this means that you do not need to plead guilty to any offenses and you do not need to go to trial with a prosecuting attorney on DUI or DWI charges. When asking for a PBJ you will go in front of a judge who will make the determination of if you qualify for a PBJ.
If you do, the judge will outline the length and conditions of your probation. The length of the probation can range anywhere from up to three years in District Court or five years in Circuit Court.
Once you complete the requirements of your probation, the underlying offenses do not become part of your criminal record. If the conditions of the probation are not satisfied, the offer of a PBJ can be revoked, and the charges reinstated.
Obtaining and complying with the requirements to satisfy a PBJ is complicated. When you hire a Baltimore PBJ lawyer, we will stand by your side to ensure the best outcome for you.
Obtaining a PBJ can make a huge difference in your future. Do not wait, contact a Baltimore probation before judgment attorney today.
Who is Eligible for a PBJ in Baltimore, Maryland?
Probation before judgment can be offered to those who have been charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland. PBJ’s are also only offered for first-time offenders. However, there is an exception that allows a person to be eligible for a PBJ if they had a previous DUI or DWI, but it was committed at least ten years before the current charge.
If you believe that you may qualify for a PBJ, contact a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer near you.
The Benefits of a PBJ
One of the main benefits of a PBJ is that nothing shows up on your public driving record as long as your probation is completed successfully. This can be important for many aspects of life, including employment.
If you are already employed and your current job was to find out about a DUI or DWI, you may be terminated. Or if you were seeking a new job, a DUI or DWI would show up in a background check. However, with a PBJ, these are not issues. Only law enforcement would have access to your file.
Also, if you were to be found guilty of a DUI or DWI, you would have to report that to your car insurance, meaning your rates would likely increase substantially.
With a PBJ none of that gets reported to your insurance, which can save you money for years to come. If you would like to take advantage of these benefits, call a Baltimore DUI attorney immediately.
What Defines a DUI / DWI in Baltimore?
DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence.” This means that a person was operating a vehicle and upon getting pulled over was found to be impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs.
When DUI’s are mentioned, the most common thought is that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. To determine if the driver was in fact under the influence, the blood alcohol content (BAC) is tested.
This is the concentration of alcohol in one’s bloodstream. Depending on age and type of license, how high the BAC must be to constitute a DUI fluctuates.
For example, if a driver who is under twenty-one years of age with a .02 or higher BAC, that can constitute charges for a DUI. If the driver is over twenty-one and has a BAC of .08 or higher, then the person is guilty of driving under the influence per se.
It is important to keep in mind that there are different standards and that even if a person’s BAC is under .08, they may still be guilty of a crime. So, if you are charged with a DUI, and it is your first time, you may qualify to ask for a judgment of a PBJ.
Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras, to talk to the experienced attorney about filing for a PBJ.
Possible Penalties of a DUI
Since DUI’s are prosecuted vigorously in Maryland, the penalties are also very stringent. The penalties also depend on if it is a person’s first offense or second or third offense.
If you have been charged with a DUI and it is your first offense, the jail time can be up to one year and the fine is not to exceed $1,000. On top of jail time and penalties, a person will also have their license suspended. For a first offense, a person’s license is suspended for six months.
For second and third offenses, the penalties become much harder. For a second DUI offense, a person can face up to two years in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000.
Furthermore, the license is suspended for one year. Finally, if a person receives their second or third DUI offense, they are required to keep an Ignition Interlock Device in their car. This means that in order for a car to start, the driver must blow into the device.
When it comes to sentencing there is a look-back period of five years, which is the period of time that prior DUI’s are relevant for sentencing purposes. If you are facing DUI charges, you could be facing serious jail time, major fines, and a suspended sentence.
With so much on the line, why risk getting charged and sentence with DUI charges? Talk to an experienced DUI lawyer immediately to discuss the possibility of receiving probation before judgment.
Can a PBJ Be Expunged in Baltimore?
If a PBJ has been granted, you may not be eligible to have it expunged. Under Criminal Procedure §10-105, a PBJ can be expunged once probation is completed and discharged or three years after probation was granted, whichever is later. If your probation was discharged less than three years ago, you may file a motion for a good cause exception.
However, a PBJ for a DUI is not eligible for expungement.
Once filed, the court will decide whether there is good cause to grant the expungement. If you are seeking a PBJ or an expungement of your record, a Baltimore criminal defense attorney can help you.
When a verdict is given the decision is normally guilty or not guilty. The decision is rendered either by a judge or jury and technically there is no finding of innocence.
However, there can be a couple of other outcomes in cases other than guilty or not guilty. A PBJ is one of those verdicts. Furthermore, there is nolle pros or a stet.
For nolle pros, the State opted to end the prosecution and dismiss the charges.
Stet is a suspension of prosecution. However, with this the State may reopen the case, continuing the charges, with no need to recharge. Normally this is offered under some sort of condition, which if not met will cause the case to be reopened.
With so many outcomes for cases, don’t go in uninformed. Talk to a Baltimore criminal defense attorney to discuss possible outcomes for your case.
Call a PBJ Lawyer in Baltimore Today
Probation before judgment can save you time out of jail, fines, the hassle of an ignition interlock, or even a suspended license. DUI’s do not look good on people’s records.
So, if you have been charged with your first DUI or DWI, you need to talk to a Baltimore PBJ attorney near you.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we have the skills and experience it takes to help defend you from DUI charges and file to receive a PBJ. We have offices located in Dundalk and Lutherville. Call (410) 694-7291 or come in for a free consultation.