What is Early Termination of Probation and How Can I Qualify?
If you are sentenced to probation in California, you may qualify for early termination. Qualifying for early termination of probation is only half the battle. You also must convince the judge, based on a variety of factors, that you deserve early termination.
There are many benefits of obtaining early termination and no harm in trying to pursue this important option.
What is Early Termination of Probation?
Early termination of probation is made available under California Penal Code Section 1203.39(a). This statute states that a judge may, at any time during probation, modify the sentence based on “good conduct and reform of the person.”
Early termination of probation is exactly what it sounds like – you get off probation early! However, it is important to note that getting early termination can be difficult, and skilled lawyers will need to prepare a detailed argument on your behalf to convince the judge.
What is the Process For Early Termination?
To obtain early termination, you must request a hearing with the court and file a motion for modification of probation at least two days prior to the hearing. The prosecutor and court must both receive the motion. Your lawyer may talk to the prosecutor in advance to see if they oppose the motion. At the hearing, both sides will present arguments in favor of or against early termination.
When the hearing is over, the judge will decide to grant or deny the motion for early termination. If the motion is granted, your probation will end. Alternatively, it could be denied with the option of petitioning again at a later date, or it could be denied with prejudice.
A denial with prejudice means you are not allowed to request another early termination and will be required to finish the complete term of probation. Filing a premature motion for early termination before you satisfy the eligibility requirements may make a denial more likely. Also, more serious crimes, such as sex crimes or violent crimes, may make a judge more likely to dismiss with prejudice.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for Early Termination?
To qualify for early termination of probation, a probationer must be compliant with all the terms of their probation. Otherwise, they will not satisfy the “good conduct” requirement under Section 1203.39(a). The conditions of probation are different for everyone.
Some of the common conditions of probation include:
- Successful completion of mandatory classes such as DUI school or Domestic Violence counseling
- Successful completion of substance abuse or addiction counseling
- Compliance with sobriety requirements
- Obtaining gainful employment
- No new charges or pending cases
- Successful payment of all restitution, fees, and fines
- Compliance with no-contact orders
- Successful completion of community service hours
Typically, if you have followed all the terms of your probation, you will qualify for early termination. Judges usually will not consider early termination unless you have finished at least half of the probationary period. Judges like to see law-abiding conduct for a substantial amount of time to show rehabilitation was successful.
What Other Factors are Considered by the Court?
If you meet the eligibility requirements (by complying with all the terms of probation), you will still need to convince the judge at a hearing that you deserve early termination. Your lawyer will argue that you are fully rehabilitated and no longer need supervision or pose a threat to the community or yourself.
Some of the factors that the court will look at to satisfy the “reform” requirement under Section 1203.39(a) include:
- Past criminal convictions
- The seriousness of the underlying crime
- Whether violence or vulnerable victims were involved
- Hardships caused by probation
- Risk of future criminal conduct
Your probation officer may be an important witness at your early termination hearing. If they are in your corner, your chances of early termination will increase. If your probation officer believes continued supervision is necessary, it will be a tougher sell to the judge.
Don’t ever discuss legal strategy with your PO; it is important to only talk to your lawyer when considering early termination. Your lawyer will advise you on how to proceed, not a representative of the state of California.
What are the Benefits of Early Termination of Probation?
Early termination of probation is a huge deal. It can provide you with very important benefits such as:
- Conditions of probation are lifted
- No more risk of probation revocation
- No more travel restrictions
- Easier to find a job
When people talk about “getting caught up in the system,” they are often talking about probation. Probation conditions are numerous and difficult to comply with. Obtaining early termination greatly reduces the risk of recidivism. Recidivism is a fancy term that means reoffending and landing back in jail.
California passed Assembly Bill 1950 in October 2020 (effective January 2021) to address concerns about recidivism and probation reform. This law greatly reduced the maximum term of probation for many different types of crimes. The new maximum terms of probation are one year for misdemeanors and two years for most felonies. The maximum terms don’t apply to every type of crime, however. Some still have longer terms by law.
The shortened maximum terms make early termination of probation less important to some people. However, because the maximum terms were not shortened for all offenses, many probationers can greatly benefit from early termination, particularly for more serious felonies.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
It is our hope that you have a better understanding of what is early termination of probation and how you can qualify after reading this article. Probation laws can be confusing, and our legal team is always happy to explain the nuances to our clients.
The criminal defense lawyers at Rodriguez Law Group have helped numerous clients fight for early termination and would love to help you as well. If you have questions about your unique situation, get in contact with our team or call us at (213) 995-6767.
Last Updated on September 30, 2021