Pulling back the veil-Unraveling the mystery of the PJC in traffic cases
There is no concept of law that crosses over into local lore that creates as much confusion as the PJC (Prayer For Judgment Continued). What is it? What does it do and when should it be used?
The PJC procedure, is a request by a defendant to a Judge following a guilty plea or finding of guilty that judgment or sentencing be continued indefinitely. The idea is that if there is not a final judgment then the case is held in a state of perpetual limbo. If the is no final judgment, then the theory goes that the defendant will not experience any of the consequences of being convicted. The defendant can only be required to pay courts costs in exchange for a PJC, no other conditions, such as fines or probation.
Generally its not the punishment that the court room judge would hand down with the conviction that the defendant is trying to avoid, but the collateral consequences that go along conviction. The two main ones in traffic cases the loss of license and the increase in insurance.
The DMV has dozens of offenses and combinations of offenses that can revoke a drivers license. If a Judge allows a PJC, then the DMV does not count that offense toward any revocation. The DMV allows a driver to use a PJC two (2) times in five (5) years.
The second way a PJC is of great benefit is prevent a driver's insurance company from counting points for a conviction. For insurance purposes a driver is allowed one (1) PJC every three years. Attorneys are taught at seminars that this is one PJC per household of the people on the same insurance policy. However, in 22 years I have never seen a case where a person lost the benefit of a PJC because someone else in their household had one.
Obtaining a PJC in court is not as simple as it might seem. First, it takes considerable knowledge to determine if that is the best outcome to seek for that particular offense. Second, each Judge and DA has their own views of when a PJC is appropriate and when the officer's consent should be obtained, so knowing this is critical. This is local knowledge. Third, PJC procedure requires the defendant to plead guilty before the request is made to the Judge, so if the request is denied the defendant is stuck with all the consequences of a straight up guilty plea, including insurance points and revocation of their license up to a year.
For this reason, a driver who hires an experienced local traffic attorney to analyze their case and obtain the best result possible is spending their money wisely.