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How to Terminate Probation Early in California Criminal Cases

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Dec 03, 2019

This is a big question on a lot of people's minds who are on probation in Los Angeles county and they don't want to be on probation anymore.  They want to move on with their life and try to get a job and try to get that probation terminated early, and even a lot of times people are looking to get their case expunged or dismissed so they can do everything possible to put their criminal matter behind them. Early termination of probation is covered under California Penal Code 1203.3.

Complete Terms and Conditions of Probation

There are ways to get a probation terminated early. The first step, obviously, is to complete all of the terms and conditions of that probation.  In other words, if you haven't done everything that the judge ordered you to, or that you agreed to do when your attorney made the plea negotiation or plea bargain with the prosecutors — then you have pretty much no chance to get your probation terminated early.

For example, some people owe restitution in a criminal case.  They're trying to get their probation terminated early.  It's not going to happen.  You need to pay the restitution off and then you're in a much better position to try to get that probation terminated early.

The ways to do it is to have your attorney file a motion on your behalf requesting that the probation be terminated early.  Explain what you've done, what type of life you've led since you were put on probation — how cooperative you were — and also, usually to have any chance of getting this motion granted, you're going to have to explain why you want to terminate your probation early.

Sometimes people want to move to a different state.  Sometimes people want to get a new job and they're being hindered from getting the new job because of the fact that they're on probation.  It can be for a variety of reasons, but usually the judge is going to look at why do they want to do this?  Have they successfully completed all of the terms and conditions of probation and are now just waiting for the time to expire?

Completed At Least One Half of Probation Period

Another huge issue when trying to terminate your probation early is how long you were on probation. If you have a three-year probation and you've already done two and a half years, now you're in the ballpark to try to get that probation terminated early.  If you get a three year probation and you've only done six months, it's not going to happen.

The argument against terminating our probation early, and obviously you should know this because then you can try to combat this argument is, you worked out a deal with the prosecutors.  Part of that deal was that you had to be on probation for a certain period of time.

So, why should you now go back and be able to renege on that deal when that was what you originally agreed to?  So, that's what you have to argue against because usually that's what the prosecutors are going to argue when you try to come into court requesting to terminate your probation early.  So, you need to have a good reason why you want to terminate your probation early.

Reduce Felony Case to a Misdemeanor – PC 17b

Also, another thing to be cognizant of when you're considering terminating a probation early is whether you can first request that the judge reduce your matter to a misdemeanor.  Because if the case can be reduced to a misdemeanor and then the probation terminated, now you're in a good position.

Also, if you get your felony case reduced down to a misdemeanor, now you're just on summary probation.  You don't have to report to the Probation Department.  You don't have to pay any money.

You can travel at will without having to alert the Probation Department or get permission from the judge.  So, that's another thing to consider if you want to get rid of some of the things that are bothering you about being on felony probation.  For example, you can try to reduce the case to a misdemeanor and then you'll only be on summary probation which is a lot easier to deal with.

File Motion to Terminate Probation Early

What we do when we file our motion to terminate your probation early is we ask the court for a court date.  We tell the court clerk that we're going to file a motion to terminate the probation early.  We put in case law that shows that the judge obviously has the authority and the discretion to terminate your probation early.

Terminate Probation Early in California Criminal Cases

We show exactly what you've done while you've been on probation, and then of course, the most important hook is we give the reason why we want your probation terminated early.

The courts will usually get a supplemental probation report from the Probation Department saying how you've been doing on probation.  They'll also have the Probation Department or the prosecutor or even the clerk, run your criminal record to make sure that you don't have any convictions while you've been on probation.  They're also going to look at whether you have had any probation violations while you've been on probation.

Internal probation violations would be that you didn't comply with one of the terms and conditions that the judge ordered you to comply with.  An external probation violation would be that you picked up a new case, for example, and went against the obey all laws portion of your probation that everybody is ordered to comply with — that they cannot pick up any new criminal cases.

So, it's definitely possible to get your probation terminated early.  It's typically not easy though because the prosecutors are there standing in your way.  We file our motion.  We put all of the reasons why.  We submit character letters.  We submit information about you, your job, your future, your family and we file that with the court.

We serve a copy on the prosecutors and a lot of times we're going to have to get the probation office involved as well because they will usually write a report for the job and they can make the recommendation to terminate your probation early.

In fact, that's where a lot of these early probation termination motions come from is that the probation department sees that the person is doing a great job.  They suggest to the person and the court that they try to terminate their probation early.

But, that's not a foregone conclusion.  Just because the probation department wants to get rid of you and get you off probation because you're doing a good job, doesn't necessarily mean that the prosecutors will agree to that and it doesn't necessarily mean that the judge will agree to it.

Contact the Hedding Law Firm for Help

It certainly puts you in a good position, but you want to make sure that the motion is filed the right way and that your advocate — your attorney — goes in there and argues it for you, because another thing they're going to look at is what the underlying case was.

Sometimes, some of these cases they really feel the person should be on probation and should be watched for the full probationary period, especially in sex crime cases, domestic violence cases, prosecutors and judges are worried about terminating a probation early because then they're afraid that the person will then go and pick up some other case and then they're going to be look ed at in a negative light because they terminated that probation early.

So, these are things you have to consider and the best individual that sits in the best position to make the strongest argument for you is your attorney.  So, make sure you go through your attorney.  Let him know you want to terminate your probation early.  Most attorneys will charge a fee for this — for their time to go into court to deal with it and strategize it, but it's well-worth the money if you can get your probation terminated early.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.