The Most Important Five Minutes of Court

When you finally appear in court, it will probably be a district court set aside specifically for traffic violations. Before the judge begins hearing traffic cases, he or she usually gives a short five minute speal about how they are going to try the cases appearing before the court on that day.

This is where you can size up the judge and determine how your case will fall. If you have a clean driving record, more than likely you will be given PBJ. PBJ doesn't stand for Peanut Butter and Jelly, it stands for Probation Before Judgement. What this means is that the court feels there is enough evidence to convict you but will hold a verdict until the end of the probationary period. If you reach the end of the probationary period without any similar violations, a verdict of not guilty will be entered and no points will appear on your driving record. The term of the probationary period is at the discretion of the judge. If no term is mentioned in court, it is usually until you pay the fine and court costs. So you are on probation from the time you leave the courtroom until you walk over to the cashier and pay the fine. If a term is specified, it is usually six months or one year.

During the short speech, the judge will explain how cases will be handled. For example, a judge may say that if you have a clean driving record for the past 3 years and were traveling at less than 20 MPH over the posted speed limit, PBJ will be granted.

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