During sentencing, the judge can give you a prison or jail sentence or place you on probation for a maximum of five years. The duration of your probation will depend on whether the underlying conviction is a misdemeanor or felony. Probation allows you to serve your sentence out of incarceration. While it is the most preferred sentencing option, it can significantly restrict your life. For example, you cannot travel outside the court’s jurisdiction, even for work. Some probation conditions could also keep you away from your friends and family. That is why it is an excellent idea to consider an early termination of probation.
Fortunately, criminal court judges grant early probation termination under specific conditions, including excellent performance. You must provide reasonable grounds for seeking an early termination. The guidance and help of a skilled criminal lawyer are needed to file a successful petition in court. It also improves your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome for your petition.
A Brief Overview of How Probation Works
Probation is a sentencing option that most judges use to allow convicts to serve part of or their entire sentence out of jail. The length and type of probation you receive depends on your conviction, whether a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor probations last between one and three years, while felony probations can last up to five years. The judge will require you to abide by some conditions while on probation to ensure your sentence is smooth and you do not reoffend. Again, the requirements you receive will depend on the underlying conviction. For example, if you are guilty of a DUI offense, the judge could order you to attend a DUI school and submit to regular DUI tests throughout your probation.
Probation is generally a period within which you must prove yourself capable of abiding by the law. Though you return to your routine after a criminal conviction, you must provide periodic reports on your performance to the court or probation department. While on felony probation, a probation officer will closely monitor your progress and write a report to the court. You must not commit a crime while on probation. If that happens, you will be rearrested, tried for the second offense, and sentenced to incarceration for the first and second offenses.
Remember that judges set probation conditions according to the underlying offense. In addition to staying out of trouble and submitting period reports, you will receive other conditions. For example, participating in community service, undergoing counseling or therapy, receiving treatment or rehabilitation for an underlying condition, and paying court fees and/or restitution to the victim. Violating one or more probation conditions is a serious violation that could result in a rearrest. The judge's decision after your re-arrest will depend on the condition you have violated and your overall performance on probation.
The judge can impose additional penalties if you violate probation. Thus, a probation violation makes matters worse for you. The judge has absolute discretion to penalize you for violating your probation. But first, they must hold a probation violation hearing to determine the circumstances of the violation. From the hearing, the judge can make one of the following decisions:
- Continue probation under the same terms but with a stern warning against future violations.
- Continue probation under new and stricter conditions.
- Discontinue probation and send you to jail for the recommended period for the offense under the law.
Early Termination of Probation
When a judge sentences you to probation, you will be under the supervision of the court or probation department for the given period. However, the law allows judges the flexibility to modify, change, revoke, or even terminate your probation whenever there is a need. For example, if you negligently violate your probation, the judge can cancel it and send you to jail. Judges can also modify probations by increasing or reducing the probation period or conditions. The provisions of PC 1203.3 allow the judge to decide based on the interests of justice. This is the same law judges use to terminate probation early upon a defendant’s request.
If the judge receives evidence that you violated the terms of your probation, they can extend, modify, or revoke it. Modification can include replacing the previous terms with stricter ones.
But if you perform well on probation, the judge can use the same law to reward your good behavior by shortening your probation or terminating it altogether. However, you must ensure that you have met all the conditions of your probation for the judge to terminate it. You must also file a petition with the court, giving a legitimate reason why you need an early probation termination.
How To Terminate Your Probation Early
Typically, the law provides two types of probation for defendants facing misdemeanor and felony convictions. The misdemeanor, summary, informal, or unsupervised probation is more lenient and shorter than the felony, formal, or supervised probation. The former is available for those convicted of misdemeanors, while the latter is for felony convicts. Sadly, both have a profound impact on the defendants’ lives. But you can file for early termination if you meet the required criteria under PC 1203.3. That will free you from your sentence and allow you to live your life past the conviction.
You can request the court for an early termination of your probation any time after sentencing. But the judge will only grant your request after serving at least half your sentence. That way, you can demonstrate in court that you are an outstanding member of society, have a stable life, and stay out of trouble with the law. It is difficult to demonstrate that if you have only been on probation for a few months.
Note that the judge will only grant your request if you demonstrate your eligibility for an early probation termination. That is why it is advisable to wait and file your request after at least serving half your sentence on probation.
When filing this request, it helps to know that the judge can grant or deny your request. Remember that the judge can terminate or modify your probation whenever needed. But they will only do so if it is in the interest of justice. Here are typical steps to take when applying for an early probation termination:
Talk to an Attorney
It is advisable to start every legal process with an attorney. That way, you can better understand the process and your options and receive the support you need for a better outcome. In this case, you must talk to an attorney about your plan to request an early probation termination. Seek their opinion and allow them to explain what the process is like. You will also need the attorney’s representation during the court processes that will follow. The right criminal attorney will check your eligibility for early termination, discuss your options, explain the process, and file the necessary documents in court to start the process. They will also fight alongside you until you obtain the best possible outcome.
The Filing Process
Once you have an attorney and have understood the legal processes involved, you can start the filing process. Your attorney will prepare and file all the needed documents in court. They will also request a hearing from the judge and prosecutor. Your attorney must ensure the documents are in court at least two days before the hearing.
When filing the documents, your attorney must ensure that the court receives documents with the following information:
- Your name.
- Your case number.
- Your sentencing date.
- The date your probation is expected to end.
- Your reason for requesting an early termination.
Talking to the Prosecutor
Your attorney must schedule a meeting with the prosecutor to discuss your probation and the reason for requesting early termination. Your attorney can seek the prosecutor’s support during the court’s process. If you have met the criteria for an early probation termination, the prosecutor can support the motion. However, the prosecutor can fight the motion in court if underlying issues exist. Your attorney must fight hard and present compelling evidence for the judge to grant your request.
You can or cannot attend this hearing. In most cases, judges conduct these hearings with criminal and district attorneys. Thus, your attorney can attend it on your behalf. But you must discuss that matter with them beforehand. It is necessary to avail yourself if your attorney feels it is needed.
The judge will hear your case and reason for seeking an early termination and study the evidence you have to decide. The prosecutor will also provide evidence and statements in support of or against your request. The judge will make the final decision.
Your defense attorney’s primary focus during the hearing will be to demonstrate the following:
- You complied with all the terms and conditions of your probation.
- You demonstrated good conduct throughout the probation period.
- You did not violate your probation and so have not attended a probation violation hearing.
- Your request for an early termination serves the interests of justice.
The judge can consider your criminal history to decide.
Note: You must file a motion to terminate your probation early in the same court that convicted you. Once you file your petition, you must give the prosecutor at least two days to prepare for the hearing. You also need time to prepare evidence to support your petition.
Evidence You Need To Support Your Motion
Your case's strength depends on your evidence and how convincing your attorney is during the hearing. It helps to understand the kind of evidence the judge needs to make the final decision. Here is an example of evidence that can support your request:
- Proof you have not been arrested or committed another offense while on probation.
- Evidence that you do not have unresolved criminal issues.
- Documents showing that you met all your probation conditions.
- Documents showing that you have paid all court fines and restitution (if it applied to your case).
Your attorney can also table documents in court to demonstrate that you have stable employment, are an active member of your community, and are currently living a crime-free life. They can obtain statements from your employer, community leaders, family members, neighbors, and the clergy to strengthen your case.
The Benefits of Early Probation Termination
After a criminal conviction, probation is the best sentencing option you receive from the judge. It allows you to serve your sentence out of jail while you continue with your work, school, and daily life. However, it is still limiting, especially if you receive strict probation conditions that limit your activities and movements. That is why you could consider an early probation termination if eligible. An early termination comes with profound benefits you must evaluate and discuss with your criminal attorney.
For example, it minimizes your chances of violating your probation. Probation conditions are usually challenging to abide by. For example, they could dictate how you work, socialize, and travel. The longer you remain on probation, the more likely you are to violate one or more conditions. An early termination eliminates that possibility. It frees you from probation and its limitations, allowing you the freedom to live your life as you have always lived.
After terminating your probation, you can file for expungement sooner. Remember that a criminal conviction leaves you with a record that can impact your life in many ways. People can conduct a background check and treat you according to your criminal past. Expungement gives you a fresh start after a criminal conviction. You need it to avoid all the disabilities and negative consequences of a conviction. But you can only file for expungement once you complete your sentence, including probation. You can file for expungement once you successfully file for an early probation termination.
Find a Skilled Criminal Attorney Near Me
Are you on probation after a criminal conviction in Sacramento?
An early probation termination could be what you need to reduce your probation period and regain your freedom without limitations. But you must establish your eligibility and then file a petition in court. The judge will consider your performance and grant your request. But you can improve your chances of success by engaging a skilled criminal attorney in the legal process.
At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we can help you understand how early probation terminations work and smoothen your legal process. Our aggressive criminal attorneys can also fight alongside you for a fair outcome. Call us at 916-779-3500 to learn about early probation terminations and your options.