Riddle: How can a judge find you guilty of a crime, but not convict you?
Probation before judgment is often confused with straight probation, but there is a very big difference between the two. The judge says I am going to give you a ten-year sentence and I am going to suspend it all and put you on three year supervised probation. That in most cases would be a probation after judgment. I have got a judgment against me. It is just that the judge allowed me to not have to go to prison and allowed me to serve on probation. But probation before judgment allows you to keep a clean record. The judge has found you guilty, but is not imposing a judgment of conviction. The judge says, well, this is your first time. I am going to give you a PBJ. I am going to give you a probation before judgment so you go on probation, you do the following things I have asked you to do and you will never get a criminal record. First offenders will have a better chance than subsequent offenders. Most judges are very hesitant to give you a criminal record if you do not have one. Pick out five prior criminal convictions, what is the difference between five convictions and six, but there is a big difference between zero and one, so you get a lawyer to explain your honor, this was an aberration. Incarceration is not necessary that you should be given this chance. This is not the normal way my client behaves. A permanent criminal record is not necessary and that is when probation before judgment will be imposed!