Insuring Probation Before Judgment

Fred Antenberg is a Columbia, Maryland criminal attorney who has been successfully representing defendants for over 30 years.

We seek to win the DUI case with a substantial number of strategies and strong efforts; however, there are times where the results are not what we had hoped. Some wins are not as spectacular but provide the client with a positive result, one type of which is Probation Before Judgment. This means you do not have a conviction even though the Court found you guilty because the Court strikes the guilty verdict and grants Probation Before Judgment or PBJ. I know that my clients sometimes get confused on the sequence of the letters so I say “think of the sequence as Peanut Butter and Jelly”. They often laugh at that suggestion for remembering “PBJ”. A similar sounding verdict could be just probation, but the guilty verdict is a conviction and the individual may receive a suspended sentence, meaning that individual is not incarcerated unless he or she violates the conditions of probation. This applies to both individuals who have received a PBJ or who received a conviction with probation and a suspended sentence. Violation of any type of probation often results in jail time.

Many first offenders of alcohol and/or drug offenses often believe that they will receive PBJ as an automatic result. That is far from the truth. For a judge to use his or her discretion to grant PBJ, the judge often considers whether, based on the facts of the case, the defendant will become a repeat offender. The judge must consider how much of a danger the defendant is to other drivers. If there has been an accident; injury to the defendant or other persons, such as passengers in the defendant’s vehicle or in the other vehicles; or high blood alcohol content, high speed, and other traffic violations, the judge may decide not to grant PBJ to the first time defendant. Additionally, the first offender may request the revisory power of the court that may result in PBJ. Specific rules must be followed to obtain revisory power of the court, however.

One method that often is successful in obtaining PBJ for a first time defendant is for the defendant to do the following:

  • Obtain a alcohol or drug assessment from a court certified and approved alcohol /drug program
  • Follow the recommendations of the evaluation which may consider the defendant’s behavior to be classified a social drinker as opposed to a problem drinker or drug abuser.
  • Complete as many of the recommended program sessions as possible before court date/trial.
  • Most programs have requirements such as to abstain from alcohol and drugs and to participate in AA and/or NA.
  • Most programs do periodic urine and or breathe testing and if you violate the program’s requirements, the result may be termination of your participation.
  • Before trial, do not drink and drive as well as abstain from drugs, since subsequent charges will prejudice your case.

Our goal is to seek a dismissal, a “stet” or a “not guilty” of the charges against you and yet we want you to act responsibly by participating in a court approved program so that your future will not include repeating alcohol or drug criminal charges.

For individuals who have more than 4 citations, we often recommend that they enroll in a driver improvement program and successfully complete the program to improve their understanding of traffic laws. By doing so, the course is likely to prevent reoccurrences of violations of the traffic laws.

Certainly your past driving record often affects the judge’s decision when you are eligible for PBJ. But there are many other circumstances where your driving record affects other important aspects of your life. The most obvious is the amount you pay for insurance and obtaining a job where you are required to drive a vehicle as part of your employment. Let’s assume that your previous jobs did not require using a vehicle as part of your job but only required that you drive to and from work. If you latter apply for a job that requires you to drive a vehicle, your poor past driving record may prejudice your chances of getting that job. It is likely that when you are driving to perform an activity within the scope of your employment, you and your employer will be liable for damages if you are negligent. Insurance companies do not want to insure employees who have poor driving records because of the greater potential for liability.

Fred Antenberg, a Criminal Defense Attorney in practice for over 30 years in Howard County, Maryland, has represented a substantial number of first and subsequent offenders in alcohol and drug related charges. Fred will navigate you through a structured and challenging process. We represent most of our clients in Howard County and Central Maryland but also represent clients in other Maryland jurisdictions as well. Call me, Fred Antenberg, to discuss your case at 410 730 4404.