Probation Before Judgment in the Justice of the Peace Court
Questions and Answers
What is probation before judgment?
Probation before judgment (PBJ) provides a means for a first offender
to avoid having a conviction entered against him or her. PBJ works as
- The offender enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.
- The Court defers further proceedings and the entry of a judgment
of conviction against the offender.
- The Court places the offender on probation for a period of
time with such terms and conditions as the Court decides are appropriate.
- If the offender complies with the terms and conditions, at
the end of the period of probation, no conviction will be entered on
Am I eligible for probation before judgment?
- You may be eligible if you are charged with a violation
or misdemeanor offense under Titles 4, 7, 11, or with certain violations
or misdemeanors under title 21 (not violations of §§ 2701,
2756, 4103, 4175, 4177, 4201, 4202, or any violation of chapter 67,
of Title 21). You are not eligible if your offense falls under
the following programs: first offenders domestic violence diversion
program (§ 1024 of title 10); conditional discharge for issuing
a bad check as a first offense (§ 900A of Title 11); first
offenders controlled substances diversion program (§ 4764 of Title
16); or first offenders program for driving while intoxicated (§
4177B of Title 21).
- You are not eligible if you are currently serving a sentence
of incarceration, or are on probation, on parole, or on early release
of any type imposed for another offense.
- You are not eligible if you have entered the PBJ program for
any offense within five years of the current offense.
- You are not eligible if you have been convicted of certain offenses.
- If you are otherwise eligible, you must still have the consent
of the State and the Court to your entry into the PBJ program.
What previous convictions make me ineligible
- If you are presently charged with a TITLE 11 criminal offense,
you are NOT eligible to enter into PBJ for that offense if:
- You have ever been convicted of a violent felony, as defined by
11 Del.C. § 4201(c), or
- You have been convicted of a non-violent felony within ten years
of the date of the alleged offense, or
- You have been convicted of a Title 11 misdemeanor offense within
five years of the date of the alleged offense.
- If you are charged with a violation of Title 21 which is otherwise
eligible for PBJ (see above), you are NOT eligible for PBJ
if you have been convicted of any Title 21 offense within five years
of the date of the alleged offense.
- If you are charged with a TITLE 4 offense, you are NOT eligible for PBJ if you have been convicted of a Title 4 offense within
5 years of the date of the alleged offense.
- If you are charged with a TITLE 7 offense, you are NOT eligible for PBJ if you have been convicted of a Title 7 offense within
five years of the date of the alleged offense.
I think I am eligible for PBJ. What should I do?
If you meet all the requirements of PBJ as explained above, you should
advise the Court that you wish to enter into the program. THE COURT
HAS THE FINAL DECISION CONCERNING ENTRY INTO THE PROBATION BEFORE JUDGMENT
PROGRAM. To enter into PBJ, the defendant's case may be scheduled
for trial so that the State has the opportunity to consent or oppose the
defendant's entry into PBJ. If you are admitted to PBJ, you will be required
to sign a Probation Before Judgment Agreement. In signing this agreement,
you give consent for the Court to enter a judgment of conviction and sentence
against you in your absence, should you fail to provide timely proof that
you complied with the terms and conditions of your probation.
What types of terms and conditions will I have to comply with if I
am offered PBJ?
All persons entering into PBJ must comply with the following:
How long will I be on probation?
The period of probation will be at the discretion of the judge, but
cannot exceed the maximum time for commitment provided by law for the
specific offense with which you are charged, or one year, whichever is
Will I have to report to a probation officer?
No. Probation under PBJ is handled by the Justice of the Peace Court
itself and the terms and conditions are monitored by the Court.
What happens at the end of my probation?
You will be scheduled for a compliance hearing (notice of the time and
date of the hearing will be sent to you at the address you have given
to the Court). At, or prior to the hearing, you must provide proof that
you have complied with any conditions of probation. If you are found to
have complied with all conditions, the Court will dismiss the action against
you and you will not have a conviction on your record. If the Court finds
that you have failed to comply with all conditions, a conviction will
be entered against you and you will be sentenced as if you had not been
placed on PBJ (except that you will be given credit for any monies already
paid to the Court). If you fail to appear at the compliance hearing, a
warrant for your arrest for failure to appear will be issued.