While a peanut butter and jelly (PB and J) is a staple in many households, it means something far different in the terms of a DUI charge. Many people think that being charged of a DUI is similar to Monopoly, Go directly to jail, do not pass go. However, this isn’t always the case, especially in the state of Maryland. Sometimes, you have the opportunity for PBJ (probation before judgement) which is another term for deferred adjudication.

Deferred adjudication means that the defendant is pleading “guilty”, or “no contest” and rather than being convicted is given a set of requirements that have to be met in a certain amount of time. These requirements can be anything from community service, house arrest, or a DUI program.

Why Do you Want PBJ?

Having probation before judgement is a preferable option to a conviction and sentencing. While the idea of pleading guilty for a DUI charge might seem counterintuitive, it means that, as long as you serve the terms of your probation, you can avoid conviction. One of the biggest advantages to this arrangement is even though you’re pleading “guilty”, that plea isn’t reported on your record. Because of this, you’re not required to report that information during job applications because you were never actually convicted. Which, when finding a job, can make all the difference.

What’s more, is some cases in which PBJ is assigned, you’re also eligible to have your record expunged. Expungement means that the incident is removed from your record and won’t show up on background checks. Expungement isn’t guaranteed, but so long as you’re complying with the court issued requirements, within the assigned deadline, then the judge might determine that there is “good cause” to expunge your record. It is also important to note, however, that expungement doesn’t happen automatically. It is your responsibility to issue a request for it when you’re time is up.

Hiring an Attorney

PBJ is always a preferred alternative to being convicted. However, if you’re trying to represent yourself, you might not get the option. When it comes to being charged with a DUI, you really should be considering hiring an experienced DUI attorney to represent you. While PBJ might be a better option than being convicted or going to jail, it isn’t the only option.

With the right attorney, you have a chance of winning in court which means you can avoid the fines, probation, and or the potential for jail time. Above all, consulting with your attorney help you to understand the best course of action as well as what options are available to you. Your lawyer will be able to determine the various elements of your case and help you weigh the potential outcomes.

In cases in which special allegations (such as when your BAC registers above .12) or aggravating factors (which can include excessive speeding or driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle) PBJ might not be an option. In either event, having an experienced DUI attorney is well worth the price, especially when compared with the alternatives. If you should find yourself in this situation, then make sure you’re making every possible option available.

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.