What is a Prayer for Judgment Continued “PJC”?
A “Prayer for Judgment Continued,” also referred to as a “PJC,” is unique to North Carolina and is available only to North Carolina residents. A PJC is a tool that North Carolina judges can use, as a matter of judicial mercy, to reduce the impact of a conviction. Generally speaking, it is only available for traffic charges and some misdemeanors. In essence, upon a finding or plea of guilty (or “responsible” in the case of infractions), the judge may choose to indefinitely delay the entry of judgment and imposition of any sentence by instead granting a PJC. While not technically a conviction, a PJC may still show up in a criminal background check and will likely still be counted as a prior conviction for purposes of determining your criminal history for any subsequent criminal convictions. Also, even though the imposition of a sentence is suspended when a PJC is granted, subsequent convictions (typically within three years) could result in the PJC effectively being rescinded and a sentence imposed for the original conviction.
So when is a PJC useful?
A PJC is primarily only available in cases of traffic and misdemeanor charges. It is useful whenever a person facing charges does not have, or chooses not to assert, a viable defense to the charges, but still wishes to avoid fines, assessment of points (license or insurance), probation, or any jail sentence. A PJC is particularly useful in traffic matters to avoid points being assessed to your driving record by the DMV, or points being assessed to your insurance record by your insurer.
A PJC cannot be used for charges of Driving While Impaired (DWI), passing a stopped school bus, speeding more than 25 mph in excess of the limit, or by those holding a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
How frequently can a PJC be used?
For driver’s license purposes, a person can have up to two PJC’s within a five year period without any points being assessed or any impact on their driving record. For automobile insurance purposes, a person can have one PJC per household (or insurance policy) every three years without any insurance premium increase. Because of these increased limitations on the use of PJC’s for insurance purposes, it is often wisest not to “use up” a PJC unless truly necessary to preserve your driving privileges or avoid insurance points. Notably, North Carolina law generally precludes an insurer from increasing your premiums for a single speeding ticket for less than 10 mph over the limit received in a three year period. So, in some instances it may be better to try and negotiate your traffic ticket to a lesser plea (such as defective equipment, <10 mph over, etc.) instead of asking the judge to enter a PJC, thus preserving your PJC for any subsequent offense.
Is a PJC right for my case?
The Law Office of Todd E. Gonyer, PLLC can help you decide if a Prayer for Judgment Continued is the right course of action for you based upon your unique circumstances. Call our office today to discuss your case at (704) 215-4924, or toll free at (800) 516-7513 so that we can help determine the best strategy to limit your expenses, preserve your driving privileges, and avoid increased insurance premiums.