Home > Traffic > PJC in NC or What is a ‘Prayer for Judgment Continued?”

PJC in NC or What is a ‘Prayer for Judgment Continued?”

Well, it’s about time I did something with this blog. It’s been too dormant too long. I’ll start with an easy topic that I’ve been explaining to several folks recently: the PJC.

You’ll often hear the term “PJC” thrown around when talking with an attorney or someone who’s recently gotten (or thinks they’ve gotten out of) a speeding ticket.

In North Carolina traffic law, PJC stands for Prayer for Judgement Continued. You see, NC has this little tweek in the traffic and infraction laws that let you “pray” for the Court to “continue your judgement” or suspend making a ruling on this particular issue. Essentially, when you ask the Court for a PJC, you’re telling the court “It was a mistake, I promise I’ll never do it again.” In return for that pseudo-promise, the Court doesn’t convict you for whatever that was (let’s say speeding). At least they don’t do it right now.

See, that’s the catch. In North Carolina, you’re only allowed 1 PJC every three years, per household. If, within 3 years, you commit the same offense or something very similar, the Court revokes the PJC and charges you with both offenses at that time.  So, let’s say that you’re caught speeding. You go into court and ask for a PJC. Let’s review some options:

  • Option 1 – you’ve got a clean record, and no one in your house has used a PJC in the last 3 years. Great! The Court grants the PJC, you pay your court costs, you go home and everything is great. Just don’t do it again!
  • Option 2 – you’ve got a clean record, but your sister, who lives with you, used a PJC last year when she ran a stop sign. Too bad. You’re out of luck and on the hook for the speeding ticket, the court costs, the insurance increase and the points on your license. Not a great outcome.
  • Option 3 – you’ve got a couple of speeding tickets in the past few years, but you’ve always paid them by sending in the money and the ticket on time. You’ve never used a PJC, and no one in your house has either. Great! The Court grants the PJC, you pay your court costs, you go home and everything is great. Just don’t do it again!
  • Option 4 – you used your PJC a year ago for running a stop sign. Now you’re up for a speeding ticket. The Court sees you’ve got a PJC for a similar offense, and revokes the PJC. Now you’re up for the speeding ticket fine, the court costs from the speeding ticket, the stop sign ticket fine, the insurance increase for both tickets, and (probably) driver’s license points for both tickets. The worst outcome.

So, you might be saying to yourself, “Well, if the chances are only 50/50 that I could get a good outcome, why would I use a PJC? I should just pay the ticket!” Maybe, maybe not.

See, if you use a PJC and keep clean for three years, at the end the PJC evaporates and your charges with it! That means that while you’re under the PJC any points (insurance or driver’s license points) don’t count against you. When the PJC is over, if you’ve kept clean, it’s like the ticket never happened, the points don’t ever count against you. Now, if you paid the ticket, you’d be paying the fine, the court costs, and get the points assessed against you. Whether you use a PJC or not, you’re likely to get stuck with court costs. If you use the PJC, you generally pay the court costs, but not the fine.  It’s cheaper in the short term and in the long term if you use a PJC and keep your record clean.

If you can foresee a time (for whatever reason) that you may get caught with a worse offense than you’re up for right now, it may make sense to save your PJC for later or for someone else in the house – say… for your 16 year old daughter who can barely afford the insurance as it is. Also, you can’t use a PJC for just any offense. If you’re collared on a DUI, don’t ask for a PJC, they’ll laugh at you. And the Court can decide not grant a PJC in a given situation if they think you don’t deserve it (for example, you were caught speeding but it was while you were passing a highway patrol car in active pursuit). Knowing when, and how, to use a PJC is one of the reasons that you may want a lawyer to help you with the process, even though you could represent yourself.

Let me know in the comments if this was helpful. In the meantime, if you’d like more information or to consult with an attorney, check out our website at www.jslawcenter.com

Next topic: Insurance Points v Drivers License Points in NC

  1. Katherine
    August 29, 2012 at 9:22 am | #1

    Thank you for this. I just got a ticket yesterday for speeding in a school zone. Do you think I could use it for this? I have had previous tickets only two, but those were paid in full. Nobody has used this at all in my family due to the fact that We did not know about this. Could you please reply and let me know if you think I would be able to use this?

  2. Scott
    November 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm | #2

    Hey, thanks a lot I really appreciate the information. Very helpful for the situation I am in right now.

  3. Taylor
    November 27, 2012 at 2:09 am | #3

    I got a DWI UNDER AGE drinking…my step brother works with the officer who arrested me if he agrees to the prayer of judgement can the judge grant it to me? I have a clean record I’ve never even got pulled over before

  4. Emma
    March 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm | #4

    How do you go about using a PJC? Specifically for shoplifting? I’m trying to help a 17 year old with a first offense for shoplifting. Do you plead guilty or not guilty when you go to court?

    • March 10, 2013 at 9:05 am | #5

      The PJC is a post-plea step. To use a PJC, you must be guilty of the underlying offense. Generally, this means pleading guilty to the offense and then ask the judge for a PJC or a “prayer for judgement continued.” But, always review your options with legal counsel and be sure your making the best decision in your situation.

  5. Jessica Sorensen
    April 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm | #6

    I just wanted to say thanks for explaining the PJC so simply! My husband had a ticket years ago in NC that we didn’t know about. We paid a lawyer to deal with it since we live in CO. I’ve been searching the web for good explanation as to what a PJC is. Unfortunately, everywhere I tied had an explanation that wasn’t so easy to understand until I came across your article. So thank you again for explaining.

  6. Joyce
    May 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm | #7

    i would like to know if i may use a PJC with my current situation. i was pulled over for failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign and when my license was checked it was suspended. i was not aware of this and forgot to pay a speeding ticket elsewhere. i paid my speeding ticket and that same day was issued my license back at the dmv. i have court on the 22nd of May and want to know if i may use a PJC.

    i have had this happen to me before twice and all i had to do was show my license to the judge, but this time in a different county the DA said i needed a lawyer.

    • kristina
      December 6, 2013 at 9:04 am | #8

      You should be able to get a dismissal on the suspended license and use a PJC on your fail to stop. I wouldn’t waste money on a lawyer if I were you…

  7. Martha
    August 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm | #9

    thank you for your article it was really helpful. I am trying to get a bus driver certification I had a speeding ticket. I talked to a lawyer to get advice. I did not know that he used a pjc to clear the ticket. Now because of the pjc I can not get the certification. Is there another way to revoke or change the ruling in order for me to get a bus certification?
    Thank you.

  8. Patrick
    September 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm | #10

    I was very glad to come across this article after doing a Google search for “prayer for judgment continued” etc. It is very well written, and the crucial information is clearly stated. It has been extremely helpful to me.

    Thank you very much.

  9. cecilea jones
    November 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm | #11

    i got a pjc today for larceny due to the fact i didnt do it and was only guily because entered the door with them.i have to be good for 3 weeks and its compleatly off my record. i had to pay 180$ for my pjc. i could of got the first affenders program for a year n do soul kitchen every weekend but i am moving to wesconcint november 28 so that wouldnt be valid in that state and they refused to put me on probation. i am 17 years old but when it happened i was still only 16.

  10. Carol
    November 27, 2013 at 10:54 am | #12

    Where does the 5 year thing time line come in?

    Someone mentioned it to me.

  11. Summer
    November 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm | #13

    You left out the fact that if u have a clean driving record for 3 years then u don’t have to use the PJC to avoid insurance points, you can just get it reduced to 9 miles over the speed limit and save the pjc for your next ticket or a stop sign charge if u have one within the next three years. You still won’t receive insurance points with the 9 over.

  12. Richard Perry
    January 8, 2014 at 9:43 pm | #14

    I had a friend who just took a PJC in a non-traffic (misdemeanor/trespassing) case. Since there are no DMV statutes relevant, what else might it mean?

  13. Cynthia
    February 8, 2014 at 7:54 am | #15

    Is the PJC only for North Carolina residents? I have a TX license, so I wanted to know if I am eligible to ask for this?

  14. February 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm | #16

    Hi!!! I used prayer for judgment last October’13 in Raleigh after a speeding ticket. But in November I got ANOTHER speeding ticket (15mph over) in Greensboro and court is next Feb 26th. What are my options? Will they revoke my license?

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