When it comes to probation, I've seen probation anywhere from a year up to five years. I would say on average, if you're charged with a felony in Los Angeles County and you're put on probation, it's usually three years.
Prosecution Objection to Ending Probation Early
When the defendant comes in and tries to change the terms of the probation, for example, by trying to short the probation up, a lot of times the prosecutors will object to it because they say, that was the deal that you made.
We gave you this. You agreed to this. Now, you are trying to change the deal. We can't change the deal. We can't send you to jail for longer. We can't tack on more Caltrans on the back of your sentence, so why should you be able to come in and fool around with the deal that you previously agreed to?
That doesn't necessarily mean the judge will not agree to terminate the probation early. In fact, a lot of times when I resolve cases, I'm able to work out a deal that allows for potentially terminating probation early.
Sometimes the prosecutors will agree, for example, after eighteen months — half of a three-year probation, if you've done everything you're supposed to, haven't had any new arrests, and haven't bothered any victims — they won't object to the probation being terminated early. So, that's one angle.
Another angle to being able to get your probation terminated early is to have a good reason — maybe somebody wants to join the Military and they can't be on probation for example — and be in the Military. So, that might be a good reason for the judge and the prosecutor to consider agreeing to terminate your probation early.
Factors that Determine Early Probation Termination in Los Angeles
One thing that I think is important is you realize the circumstances that would actually give you a good chance of terminating your probation early. First off, you have to have been on probation for a substantial period of time.
If you get a three or five years probation and you've only been on two months, they're not going to terminate your probation. So, you have to actually be on probation for a significant period of time with no problems.
Another thing I see is people haven't finished all of the terms and conditions of their probation and they're trying to terminate it early. That's never going to happen. Let's say you got one hundred days of Caltrans and you did forty-two of them, but you now want to terminate your probation. Of course, they're not going to do that because then they'd have not power or authority to make them do the rest of the Caltrans.
Let's say that you violated your probation multiple times by using drugs, picking up a new case, not doing what you were ordered to do, you're going to have an uphill battle trying to terminate that probation because you haven't done a good job.
When we file the motion to terminate the probation, we're going to want to put in there, you've done everything you were supposed to, you haven't had any new issues, you substantially complied with the probation and then that gives you a chance to terminate your probation early.
Reduce Felony to Misdemeanor – California Penal Code 17b
Another angle that can be used in some cases is, instead of terminating the probation early, which is not always that easy, if you're convicted of a felony, what you can do is try to get it reduced to a misdemeanor if it's the right type of charge. This is described under California Penal Code 17b.
It has to be a wobbler and then if it's reduced to a misdemeanor, you no longer have to pay the probation department. You no longer have to report to probation. You can travel anywhere you want.
If you get that thing reduced to a misdemeanor, you'd still be on summary probation, but that's just a misdemeanor probation – no big deal. So, that's another option instead of trying to go for the whole ball of wax and get the probation terminated early which is not early in LA County. You can try to get it reduced to a misdemeanor, assuming your charge is a wobbler.
So, there are all sorts of different angles. It depends on the judge you're in front of, who the prosecutor is. So, your first most if you're trying to terminate your probation early in Los Angeles is to sit down with an attorney who knows the courtroom where your case is pending because they're going to know the judge's tendencies. They're going to know the chances of getting that probation terminated early.
One key thing is, if you can convince the prosecutor to not object to the probation being terminated early, then you're in a real power position because the judge is going to look and say alright, both these guys want to do it.
It's one less case I have to monitor and deal with. So, most of the time the judge is going to agree to it. But realize, once you're on probation, you're on probation to the judge. So, the judge is the one who has the ultimate say whether your probation is terminated early, whether your charges were reduced down to a misdemeanor.
So, that's one of the key things you have to realize – that the judge has the power and it's up to your criminal defense attorney to convince the judge to terminate your probation early.