Three Legal Terms You Think You Know

  1. PRAYER FOR JUDGMENT CONTINUED (PJC) – Many people walk into court thinking that they can handle their case on their own by simply asking the Judge for a “Prayer for Judgment.” However, people often fail to realize that you can only use one PJC every three years, per household. Meaning, if someone else in your home and on your insurance has used a PJC within the past three years, you are not eligible. People often think that asking and getting a PJC is the same as a dismissal. While a PJC is a great tool to use, it is nothing like having the charge dismissed. With a PJC, you are “praying” to the court to “continue your judgment” and hold off on convicting you. If, after three years from getting the PJC, you have not committed another offense that is the same or similar to the original offense, the charge and PJC are no longer on your record. However, if you are convicted of an additional offense that is the same or similar to the offense that you were granted the PJC on within those three years, the court will no longer agree to “continue your judgment” and you could be convicted of both the original offense and the new offense. Also, a PJC is always in the Judge’s discretion, so even though you ask for one, a Judge can deny the request. While a PJC is a great resource and can help you keep your record clean, it is not as easy as many people think and the best option is to hire an attorney so that you can make sure you get the best possible outcome.
  2. CUSTODY – Many times, we have clients who come into our office wanting “custody” of their children, but often they are unaware of exactly what “custody” means. In North Carolina, there are actually two different types of custody. There is LEGAL CUSTODY, which is the type of custody that gives the parent(s) the right to make important decisions in their child’s life, such as medical, health, and educational decisions. A parent can have legal custody of the child, even without the child living with them. Then there is PHYSICAL CUSTODY, which is the type of custody that gives the parent(s) actual, physical care of the child. A Judge can order that both parents have JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY or that one parent has PRIMARY PHYSICAL CUSTODY. Joint Physical Custody means both parents have time with the children, but not necessarily the same amount of time. Primary Physical Custody means one parent has the children for the majority of the time, with the other parent having Secondary Physical Custody, meaning not as much time. The court determines whether each parent should have LEGAL CUSTODY of the child and whether each parent should have PHYSICAL CUSTODY of the child. “Custody” carries more meaning than just simply having the child in your physical care and it is important to know the different types and what goes along with each.
  3. MIRANDA RIGHTS – Many people think that if they are arrested, the officer must read them their Miranda Rights immediately upon arrest or otherwise, the arrest is not valid. However, this is not the case. You can be arrested and held for a long period of time and it still is considered valid without your Miranda Rights ever being read to you. Miranda Rights must only be read to you when you are in custody AND being interrogated. If the police never ask you a question about the case and never interrogate you, you do not have to be read your Miranda Rights. Nevertheless, it is important to exercise your right to remain silent when being faced with a criminal charge and to contact an attorney immediately so that we can make sure your rights are protected.