Is A Second Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) for Drug Possession in Maryland Possible?

Under current Maryland law, a defendant can only get one Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) for a drug-related offense. Once that defendant receives a PBJ in a drug case, they are prohibited by law from ever receiving another one for a new drug related crime.

However, the Maryland legislature recently changed this law regarding the court’s granting of PBJ’s for drug possession offenses. Under the new law, a defendant who has already received a PBJ for a drug crime can receive a second PBJ for a subsequent drug possession offense. The court has the power to grant the second PBJ if the court orders the defendant to complete drug court or a substance abuse program, and the defendant completes the program. This law is set to go into effect on October 1, 2012.

This new law signals that the Maryland legislature has an interest in addressing the root of drug abuse and treating offenders more like patients who need help and less like criminals. Because a PBJ is not a conviction, this gives a defendant an additional chance to get things back on track without having a criminal conviction on his or her record. If someone already has a criminal conviction on their record or a prior PBJ, the court can still give them another PBJ provided that person completes whatever drug program the court orders.

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