Probation Before Judgment
In the State of Delaware, low level eligible offenders have the opportunity to complete probation before judgment and have their charges dismissed. The court places you on probation but defers judgment being entered on the record. Once you complete the terms of your probation the judge will discharge your case. PBJ is not a conviction, however, you will have to plead guilty or "no contest" at sentencing. You will be eligible to expunge your record once you complete the program.Who is NOT eligible for Probation Before Judgment?
You are not eligible for probation before judgment if:
- you are currently on probation or serving a jail sentence
- you have been convicted of a violent felony
- you have been convicted of a nonviolent felony within 10 years of the date of the commission of this crime
- you been convicted of a misdemeanor within the past 5 years of the date of the commission of this crime
- you have had PBJ in the past 5 years
Out-of-state convictions and juvenile adjudications will count as previous convictions. PBJ cannot be substituted for the First Offender Program (FOP) for DUIs, the Drug Diversion Program for drug offenses or First Offender's Domestic Violence Diversion program for domestic violence cases.If I am eligible, how do I get on Probation Before Judgment?
The Deputy Attorney General or prosecutor must offer you the program in a plea offer. Your attorney must fill out a form certifying that you do not have any convictions that make you ineligible. Finally, the judge must accept you into PBJ. Typically, the Court will accept you for PBJ once the prosecutor recommends your admission into the program.What do I have to do while I am on Probation Before Judgment?
Typically, you will serve time on probation and report to a probation officer.
However, the Court has the power to make you:
- pay a fine
- pay court costs
- pay restitution
- do community service hours
- stay away from certain persons
- conduct yourself in a specified manner
- serve probation up to a max of 1 year
The standard plea offer is typically 1 year probation for PBJ. Your attorney can negotiate the probationary period down to less than one year. You could even be discharged upon payment of court costs and fines in rare circumstances.What happens if I violate the terms of my Probation Before Judgment?
The court may find you guilty and enter judgment on the record as if you were never placed on probation before judgment. You will be sentenced as if it were a standard guilty plea to the charge.What constitutes a violation of the terms of Probation Before Judgment?
A few examples:
- new arrests
- failure to report to probation appointments
- if applicable, violating a "no contact" provision
Contact Jason R. Antoine, criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of a crime in the State of Delaware. You may be eligible for probation before judgment or there may be better options available. Every case is different. Schedule a free consultation at our Wilmington office by calling (302) 482-4802.