What’s a Prayer for Judgement Continued?

A Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC, is generally used following a finding of guilty by the court.  It is entered with the idea that there will be no additional sentencing from the court and usually applies to moving offenses such as speeding and misdemeanor criminal offenses.  If granted a PJC on a conviction, a PJC may still show up in a criminal background check and may be counted as a prior conviction for criminal sentencing purposes.  In addition, subsequent convictions within a certain period (usually within three years) may result in the PJC being rescinding and a sentenced imposed for the original charge.

Secondly, a PJC can also be set in order to continue a case for a specified period with the idea that at some later date the State of North Carolina may pray judgment.  This may occur to to allow a defendant a period of time to stay out of trouble and the State can pray judgment at anytime should the defendant violate this condition.

It can be imposed to require a defendant to pay court costs and follow the law.  If the court imposes additional requirements such as imposing a fine, imprisonment, restitution, continue treatment, abide by a curfew, complete high school or a GED program, cooperate with random drug screens, remain employed, write an apology letter or perform community service, this may be viewed as an impermissible condition constituting a punishment.  See the “ North Carolina Superior Court Judges’ Benchbook” published by the UNC School of Government for more information.

A PJC is not allowed for certain criminal offenses:

  1. Driving While Impaired (DWI);
  2. Speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit;
  3. Passing a stopped school bus; or
  4. Solicitation of Prostitution.

Depending on your driving history, if a PJC is imposed for a Chapter 20 violation (motor vehicle code mainly involving moving violations), there may be no insurance increase imposed for the offense.   It is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer regarding when to use a PJC.

How many PJC’s can you use?

  • For DMV drivers license purposes, you can have up to two (2) PJC’s within a five (5) year period without any points being assessed or any impact on your driving record.
  • For automobile insurance purposes, you can have one (1) PJC per household (or insurance policy) every three (3) years without incurring an insurance premium increase.

As a result of the limited number of PJC’s allowed per person and household, it is very important that you seriously consider whether or not you want to request a PJC for an offense.  In North Carolina, the law generally allows a person to plead guilty to a single (1) speeding ticket of traveling less than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit within a three (3) year period without experience an insurance rate increase.  See “A Consumer’s Guide to Insurance” published by the North Carolina Department of Insurance for more information.

Determining when to use a PJC.

Dozier Law Firm, PLLC and Wake County Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Dozier can advise you in making the right decision for you.  Each situation is very different and it is very important that you meet with a lawyer who truly understands your unique circumstances.  Contact our office today for a free consultation.