Probation Before Judgment Law & Legal Definition


Probation before judgment is a term used in some states for a deferred adjudication, used by some states in sentencing certain first offenders. Laws governing probation before judgment are governed by state laws, which vary by state. The term and conditions of the probationary period is at the discretion of the judge. In some states, if the term of probation is successfully completed and there are no further violations, a sentence of not guilty will be imposed. Whether a probation before judgment counts as a conviction or is eligible for expungement varies by jurisdiction.

The following is an example of a state law dealing with probation before judgment:

“16-714. Probation for first time offenders.

(a) A person who has not previously been convicted of an offense and who pleads guilty or no contest to a non-violent offense, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, if satisfied that it is in the best interests of the person and of the District of Columbia, may, upon the written request of the person and without entering a judgment of guilty, defer further proceedings and place the person on probation subject to reasonable terms and conditions set by the court.

(b) By consenting to probation before judgment of guilt, the person waives the right to appeal from judgment of guilt to a court regarding the matter. The court shall inform the person of this waiver before permitting the person to consent to probation before judgement [sic] of guilt.

(c) The terms and conditions of consenting to probation before judgment of guilt may include the following:

  • (1) Paying a fine or restitution of actual costs any victims may have suffered;
  • (2) Participating in an appropriate rehabilitation clinic or educational program; or;
  • (3) Performing community service.

(d) Fines imposed as probation terms and conditions shall be within the amount prescribed by law for a violation resulting in conviction.

(e) If the court places the person on probation for driving under the influence, the court shall, as a condition of the probation, require the person to participate in a driver safety and awareness program and either an alcohol treatment program, or an alcohol-related educational program unless the court finds and affirmatively states on the record that the interests of the District of Columbia and of the person do not require the person to participate in an alcohol treatment or alcohol-related educational program.

(f) If the person violates any term or condition of the probation, the court may, enter a judgement [sic] of guilt and proceed as if the person had not been placed on probation.

(g) If during the probation period the person does not violate any of the terms and conditions of probation, upon expiration of the probation period, the court shall discharge the person from probation and dismiss the proceedings against the person. Discharge and dismissal shall be without adjudication of guilt, but a non-public record of the probation before judgement of guilt proceedings shall be retained solely for the purpose of the court’s use to determine whether, in subsequent proceedings, the person qualifies for probation before judgement [sic] pursuant to this section. Then, discharge and dismissal shall not be deemed a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon conviction of a crime. The effect of discharge and dismissal shall be to restore the person in contemplation of the law to the status the person occupied prior to arrest and all subsequent proceedings pursuant to this section.

(h) Upon discharge and dismissal, the person may apply to the Court for an order to expunge all official records of the proceedings pursuant to this section, (not including the non- public record to be retained under section (g), all records relating to the arrest, indictment or information, and dismissal and discharge pursuant to this subsection. If the Court determines, after a hearing, that the person was dismissed and proceedings against him or her discharged, it shall enter an order dismissing the person. No person for whom an order of dismissal has been entered shall be held under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of failure to recite or acknowledge a prior arrest in subsequent proceedings in response to any inquiry made of him or her for any purposes."