Many people who are charged with minor traffic tickets have heard the term “PJC” talked about, but don’t completely understand what it is or whether using it can help them or hurt them.
A PJC stands for prayer for judgment continued, a creation of law specific to North Carolina that is often used on traffic offenses and some other criminal offenses to avoid a conviction. In simple terms, asking a judge for a prayer for judgment continued means that you are pleading guilty to the offense, but are requesting that the Court suspend judgment in the case, thus avoiding a conviction. The judgment, and consequences therefrom in terms of driver license and insurance points, is continued indefinitely and thus driver license points and insurance points never accrue to the Defendant’s driving record. On criminal charges, the PJC is simply a way for the Defendant to avoid a conviction and punishment other than court costs, although the Defendant’s guilty plea is recorded along with a finding of guilt by the Court.
How Do I Know Whether to Ask for Prayer for Judgement Continued in My Case?
On traffic matters, only one PJC per household insurance policy may be granted every three years for insurance purposes. It is always best to consult with a lawyer about whether asking the court to continue judgment is in your best interests. A first time speeder who has no prior moving violations or accidents during the last three years and who pleads responsible to speeding 10 mph or less over the speed limit does not need to use a PJC to avoid insurance points. Under certain circumstances, asking the court to continue judgment after a PJC has already been used on a prior offense can hurt your vehicle insurance rate.
Is Prayer for Judgement Continued a cure all?
No. PJCs have no effect on offenses by commercial driver license holders and cannot be granted on certain offenses like Driving While Impaired and Passing a Stopped School Bus. If granted on a criminal offense, the PJC has little benefit to the Defendant’s criminal record as the charge would still appear on the criminal background check and reflect a plea of guilty and a finding of guilt by the Court.
Once a Prayer for Judgement Continued is granted, what is my sentence and is the case over?
Once judgment is continued, the Defendant is responsible for paying court costs. Theoretically, the Prosecutor can “re-open” the Defendant’s disposition where a PJC was granted by asking the Court to “pray judgment,” and thus enter a judgment against the Defendant which would make the disposition a conviction.
If I get another traffic ticket within three years after a PJC was granted, does that mean that the PJC’d offense comes back to bite me for insurance purposes?
Not unless you attempt to use another PJC on the new offense and don’t have one available for insurance purposes.