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What is a prayer for judgement?


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Question: What is the law for a prayer for judgment? I believe it states that there can be no criminal action against a person who has used a prayer for judgment within 3 years. Does this apply only to traffic citations or citations in general?

Answer:  You didn't mention your state, however, the prayer for judgment continued (PJC) seems to be unique to North Carolina.

A basic definition of a "Prayer for Judgement" is a plea that can be entered in a courtroom and is neither an admission of guilt nor a plea of innocence. If the plea is accepted by the judge the charge against the accused is dismissed though the judge usually has conditions for the violation to not go on the person's record.  (See "What is a prayer for judgment?")

The conditions normally include that if within a certain time period the accused repeats the crime or a similar one he/will face both charges. However, if the accused stays clean for the time period the record is expunged and the accused will face no trial or punishment for the alleged offense. In North Carolina, the probationary time period is typically three years.

The state of North Carolina allows, for car insurance purposes, one PJC per household every three years.  This means the driver's state car insurance rates cannot increase due to the violation associated with the PJC.

For driver's license purposes, a driver can have up to two PJCs within a five year period that won't result in driver's license points or have any effect on the driving record of the person receiving the PJC.

For criminal defendants in federal court, a prayer for judgment may be considered a conviction for the determination of the sentencing level upon conviction of a federal crime.

A PJC is basically like a deferred prosecution. After a plea of guilty, the judge can make a finding of guilt without entering judgment and set a new court date, usually a year later, at which time if the defendant has met the conditions set out by the judge, then the charge can be dismissed.

Receiving a prayer for judgment continued is completely up to the discretion of the court.

If you have used the prayer for judgment plea for a traffic offense or other type of violation of the law in North Carolina, then you should have been advised of what your conditions are that you must follow. If the conditions include no criminal action, but you are unsure what this means you should check with the court that allowed the PJC for clarification.


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