Prayer for Judgement Continued

Prayer For Judgment Continued

In North Carolina, there is a rather unique facet of criminal procedure known as a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC). A PJC does not typically constitute an entry of judgment unless it is subject to certain conditions being completed. Obeying the law or paying cost of court is not such a condition. The conditions that will transform a PJC into an entry of judgment are subjecting a defendant to a fine, imprisonment, restitution, continued psychiatric treatment, abiding by a curfew, completing high school, enrolling in an institution of higher learning or joining the armed forces, cooperating with random drug testing, performing community service, remaining employed, or writing a letter of apology.

A PJC is a powerful tool which is granted within the discretion of a presiding judge. A PJC may be granted for various crimes but is most typically granted when there are traffic violations before the court. The North Carolina Legislature has limited the use of the Prayer for Judgment by taking away judicial discretion to grant them when you are charged with traveling greater than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit or for passing a stopped school bus. There is some argument and variation among North Carolina’s many counties about when you are actually charged with a traffic violation. Is it when the ticket is written or is it when the District Attorney presents the charges to the court? While this gives judges great latitude, the truth is that a judge is never required to agree to enter a PJC and many judges wield that discretion by their own individual moral authority or guidelines. If you have recently been cited with a traffic violation, you may indeed be eligible for a PJC and may be able to have one entered. However, it’s important to note that a PJC will be ineffective in many instances, meaning that neither the DMV nor your insurance company will recognize the PJC even though they have been entered by a judge. If you are an out-of-state driver, it is almost never appropriate to enter a PJC due to the fact that this unique to North Carolina practice may not be recognized in your home state. Furthermore, if you are attempting to join the military, the military may not allow you do so until the matter upon which a PJC was entered has been finally settled. This would typically only be of concern if a PJC was entered on more serious criminal matters such as drug possession.