Probation Before Judgment – PBJ for short – is a unique Maryland disposition which allows the  judge to withhold formal entry of a conviction at the time of sentencing.

Instead, a defendant is placed on probation for a period, with whatever conditions the judge sets. If the client is successful in completing the probation, the conviction is never entered, and the client is discharged.

Maryland law states that a discharge under PBJ “is not a conviction.” (Because PBJ is not a conviction, you have no right to appeal a PBJ disposition.)

PBJ turns the traditional conviction followed by probation model on its head. Traditionally, a person is convicted, then placed on probation. With PBJ, the probation comes first. If probation is successful, the conviction is never entered.

However, under some circumstances, PBJ’s may be treated as convictions under federal law, for immigration purposes, for commercial driving and pilot licenses, and by employers.

It is important that these collateral consequences be weighed carefully in determining whether PBJ confers a benefit on any particular client.

Following a successful completion of the terms of a PBJ, it is possible to have your arrest and court records expunged.

However, expungement is not available in DUI cases, even if the judge gives a PBJ. In DUI cases, in order to be eligible for expungement, you need to either win your case at trial, have it dismissed by the judge or prosecutor, or have it placed on the STET docket.

Paul Zukerberg, Attorney


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