If you have a speeding ticket or other driving offense, you are probably concerned about the cost of the fine as well as long term issues, like how this will affect your insurance rates or if you are at risk of losing your license. Asking for a prayer for judgement continued is a possible option that will reduce your costs and keep points off your license. Our traffic lawyers in Raleigh are providing an in-depth look at what the prayer for judgement continued (PJC) is and when and how you can use it.
What is a Prayer for Judgement Continued (PJC) in North Carolina?
A prayer for judgement continued (PJC) in North Carolina is a legal term that refers to a specific scenario after a conviction. It is a decision made by the trial court where the judge postpones the execution of the judgment. Instead of immediately imposing a sentence, the judge grants a PJC, effectively putting the judgment on hold. This allows for the possibility of alternative outcomes or further considerations before sentencing. The specific reasons for granting a PJC may vary, such as the need for additional information, pending testimony against co-defendants, or the defendant’s absence. A PJC provides a temporary reprieve from the immediate consequences of the conviction, with the potential for the judge to revisit the sentencing at a later date.
First, a PJC can be entered as a dispositional action, where no further sentencing is anticipated. This type of PJC is commonly used for minor offenses like traffic infractions and allows the defendant to avoid certain consequences, such as DMV or insurance points. However, it still counts as a conviction for the defendant’s criminal record.
Second, a PJC can be entered as a continuance, which means that the judge postpones the sentencing until a later date. This may happen if the judge requires additional information about the defendant, if the defendant will testify against co-defendants, or if the defendant has fled and needs to be apprehended before sentencing.
Term to Term
The third type of PJC is less common and is entered after a guilty plea for a criminal offense in a superior court. In this case, the judgment specifies that the prayer for judgment is being entered “from term to term” for a specified period. During this time period, the state has the option to seek sentencing if the defendant commits a new criminal offense or engages in misconduct.
What Is An Example of a PJC in NC?
If you receive a speeding ticket for driving 15 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, you’re facing a $250 fine as well as court costs, points on your license, and a spike in your insurance rates. You can appear before the judge and petition for a PJC, and if granted, the fines aren’t imposed and there won’t be points on your license or insurance. You will, however, be required to pay court costs.
When to Use a PJC
There are specific guidelines about when you can and can’t use a PJC and how they can affect your future.
The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles only allows two PJCs every five years. If you receive an additional violation within that time frame, it’s important to note that the existing tickets won’t “come back.” Instead, if you have a PJC and receive an additional ticket or driving offense, you won’t have to pay the fine or receive license points from your previous ticket, even if a second prayer for judgement continued isn’t granted.
Using two PJCs within two years will negatively affect your insurance (more on that below), but by avoiding the license points, you can prevent license suspension. Additionally, if you receive a moving violation while your license is suspended, a PJC will keep you from more severe punishments, as well as losing your license all together.
Your car insurance looks at PJCs a bit differently and insurance points and license points are separate. They will only accept one PJC every three years per insurance policy. This means that if you, your partner, and your child are all on an insurance policy, only one of you can use a PJC during this period. If you have been granted a PJC, and your partner gets a ticket, they may not want to use a PJC because the insurance points from the original ticket may go into effect at that point, causing rates to go up. In that case, you may want to fight the ticket to try and get it removed from your record.
When Not to Use a PJC
There are a few instances where it’s not recommended or not legal to use a prayer for justice continued.
- Excess speeding: You are found to be speeding more than 25 mph over the posted limit.
- Passing a stopped school bus: PJCs aren’t allowed under any circumstances of passing a school bus whose signs are posted.
- DWI: If you are convicted of a DWI, you aren’t eligible for a PJC.
- Enlisting in the military: A PJC can be seen as an unresolved legal issue as it’s not considered a final judgement and this can prevent enlistment in the armed forces.
- Commercial truck drivers: A PJC is still seen as a guilty ruling and can impact your job.
How Do You Ask for Prayer for Judgement?
To ask for a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) in North Carolina, follow these steps:
- Plead Guilty/Responsible: When your speeding ticket case is pending in a North Carolina court, you first need to plead guilty or responsible for the offense. This typically involves admitting to the violation.
- Request Judgment Continuance: Immediately after pleading guilty, you need to make a direct request to the judge for a Prayer for Judgment Continued. It’s important to clearly state your request and intention for the judge to continue your judgment.
- Bring Supporting Documents: Prior to appearing in court, obtain a certified copy of your North Carolina driving record. Bring this along with a copy of your citation to court. When it’s your turn to speak to the District Attorney, present them with your certified driving record and citation.
- Discuss Best Reduction: Engage in a conversation with the District Attorney about the possible reductions in your case. Show them your certified driving record and citation, and ask for their recommendation on the best reduction available for your situation.
- Inquire about Opposition: If you are dissatisfied with the suggested outcome, ask the District Attorney whether they will oppose your request for a PJC. If the District Attorney confirms that they will not oppose your request, it increases the likelihood of your PJC being granted.
- Plea and Request: When the District Attorney calls your case for a plea, inform the judge of your plea by saying something like, “Your Honor, I plead guilty. I request Judgment be Continued. The District Attorney is not opposing my request. Also, I have my certified driving record here for your review.”
Remember, the process of requesting a PJC may vary depending on the specific court procedures and the discretion of the judge. It’s always advisable to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the local practices to ensure you navigate the process correctly.
Have You Been Charged with a Traffic Offense in Raleigh?
If you’re facing an expensive speeding ticket or other moving violation, and you’re not sure if you should fight the ticket or petition for a PJC, reach out to our team today for a consultation and learn more about your options. Call us at 919-615-2473 or fill out the form below to get started.
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