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Felony Probation in California Criminal Cases


What Does it Mean to be on Felony Probation in a Criminal Case?

Felony probation is obviously much more rigid and strict than misdemeanor probation in a criminal case.  Most times in Los Angeles county, for example, if you’re on felony probation you’re going to have to continue to report to the judge while you complete whatever terms and conditions of your probation that the judge ordered you to complete.

To give readers a better understanding of what it means to placed on felony probation, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Once you’ve got a handle on things and you’ve completed most of what you’re supposed to, a lot of times the judges will let you just be on probation and report to the probation department so you don’t have to worry about having to keep coming back and forth to court.

Felony Probation and Monthly Meetings with Probation Officer

When you’re on felony probation you usually do have to report to the probation department once a month and basically that means you have to make sure that you are checking in with your probation officer.  They usually want you to be employed.  They want you to obviously remain arrest-free.  So, they’re really just keeping tabs on you during the probationary period.

One thing that’s a little frustrating to me is that they’ll make you pay for that probation department while you’re on felony probation and that can be quite costly for someone who’s trying to obviously make ends meet at home — pay all their bills and also pay the probation department. Felony Probation in California Criminal Cases

So, that’s going to be one of your main responsibilities if you’re on felony probation — is to keep tabs with your probation officer.  A lot of times they may make you meet with the probation officer in person in the beginning of probation and then if they see that you’re on the right track.

They’ll either let you report by mail or just go to a kiosk to show that you’re still in Los Angeles county, don’t have any new arrests and are basically sticking on the straight and narrow.

Most felony probation’s after sentencing are three years, but I’ve seen them up to five years.  I’ve even seen them longer in some rare and unique criminal cases.  But usually its three years, and after the three years is up, you’re automatically off probation.

Reduce Felony Conviction to Misdemeanor

Jurisdiction is automatically terminated and if the case is a wobbler you can file a motion or your attorney can file a motion (Penal Code 17b)  on your behalf to get the felony reduced to a misdemeanor — ultimately try to get the case dismissed so if anybody looks you up they’ll see that your case was dismissed.

This is obviously much better than having a conviction on your record.  That dismissal is better.  There’s no such thing as a true expungement in California.  So, if you’re convicted of a felony, unless a deal was worked out, you’re usually not going to get the entire case wiped off your record, but you can get it dismissed.

If it’s a straight felony, the felony conviction would be dismissed.  If it’s a wobbler, you could first get it reduced to a misdemeanor and then get it dismissed off your record.

Early Termination of Probation

I have had cases where people were on felony probation where they could try to get their probation terminated early or they could try to get it reduced to a misdemeanor before the three years is up, for example, in which case they’d be on misdemeanor probation. Early termination of probation is described under California Penal Code 1203.3.

They wouldn’t have to report to the probation department anymore and they wouldn’t have to pay the probation department anymore.  They would just be on misdemeanor probation which basically means don’t get in trouble or do anything criminal during the rest of the probationary period.  Then at the end of the probationary period, it would automatically be terminated.

There are some circumstances, if you can mount a strong-enough argument where the courts will terminate your probation altogether if you served a substantial amount of it and you have a good reason for doing so.

Like for example, you cannot get gainfully employed in the career that you’ve chosen because you have this criminal probation hanging over your head.  So, felony probation can be serious.  You lose the right to vote.

You lose the right to own, use or possess a gun and ammunition and there’s a number of other restrictions that the court and the probation department can put on you.  So, you obviously want to be aware of those and comply with the court’s orders and comply with the probation department so you can get that reduction to a misdemeanor and/or dismissal.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 374-3952.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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