Your attorney may employ a number of strategies to help you avoid being convicted of a crime or get the charges dropped altogether, but one that can be particular effective is agreeing to complete a probation before judgment program. Here's what you need to know about this option to help you determine if it's one you should pursue.
Keeping Your Record Clean
Probation before judgment is just as it sounds. A defendant is ordered to be on probation for a certain period of time. In exchange for successfully completing the program, the court will forgo convicting the person of the crime he or she is charged with. For instance, the court will drop the DUI charges against a defendant after he or she does 2 years of probation.
As you can imagine, participating in this type of program can keep your criminal record squeaky clean and help you avoid many of the problems associated with being convicted of a crime, such as job loss or increased insurance rates. Since information about probation before judgment agreements are typically limited to law enforcement, you won't have to worry about public disclosure of your private mistake.
Lastly, this type of program can help you avoid more severe consequences down the road if you were to get in trouble with the law again. For instance, a DUI that's eliminated through this program wouldn't count against you if you were charged with another DUI in the future.
Specific Requirements Apply
Unfortunately, the courts limit who is eligible to participate in this type of program. Although eligibility requirements vary from state to state, generally only first-time offenders will be approved. However, some states will make exceptions in certain cases. In Maryland, for instance, you may still be approved for the program if your previous offense occurred 10 years prior.
Additionally, not all offenses qualify for the program and you may be limited in how often you can use this option. In Delaware, you can't enter a probation before judgment program if you've completed one within the previous five years.
Most importantly, though, you may be required to enter a guilty plea to the charges as a condition of participating in the program. The is because the prosecution will use the guilty plea to convict you of the crime if you violate your probation or fail to complete the program. Therefore, it's essential you think carefully whether you can stay out of trouble for the requisite period of time.
For more information about this or other programs that can help you with your criminal case, contact an attorney, like Barry W Engle PC, for advice and assistance.