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How To End Your Probation Early: What You Should Expect

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on April 29, 2020

Many people think of probation as getting off lightly when it comes to the legal system. However, while probation can be given in lieu of a prison sentence or as part of a reduced sentence, it often puts people between a rock and a hard place. After all, just because someone is on probation that doesn’t mean they don’t still have bills to pay, or go in to work. If the restrictions and requirements placed on them by probation cause a strain, it’s possible that someone will lose their job or their home, and what could be worse that could make them violate the terms of their probation on top of everything else.

In the state of California, it’s possible to petition the court for one’s probation to be ended early as a way to escape the need to keep all these plates spinning at once. However, it’s not just a simple matter of turning in a form and waiting for it to be processed.

What Do You Need?

California Penal Code 1203.3 reads “The court shall have authority at any time during the term of probation to revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension of imposition or execution of sentence. The court may at any time when the ends of justice will be subserved thereby, and when the good conduct and reform of the person so held on probation shall warrant it, terminate the period of probation, and discharge the person so held.”

Just because the court can do something, however, doesn’t mean that it will do so on your behalf. If you wish to petition the court to end your probation early, you typically need to show that:

  • You have completed the terms of your probation (finished any classes you were ordered to take, paid fines and restitution, etc.).
  • There are circumstances that justify your probation being ended early.

That second one is often a key to the whole process. Because probation is a contract between the individual and the court, and generally to renegotiate that contract there must be a change in circumstances surrounding said contract. Which is why just completing the terms of service (or showing you acted in good faith and completed a majority of them) isn’t enough to warrant probation being ended early. You need to show how this probation is actively harming your rehabilitation rather than helping it.

For example, if being on probation is making it impossible to find gainful employment, or if the requirements of your job have changed so that being on probation might cause you to get fired, those are circumstances worth bringing to the court. If you are trying for a professional license, and your counsel believes that being on probation would seriously harm your chances, then that could also be a viable situation. Generally speaking, though, you need to be able to show that ending your probation early is a necessity, rather than a reward you’d like to have.

What Happens Next?

If you can show that ending your probation early is needed, and the court agrees with you, then the court can end your probation early. When this happens, it may also expunge the record of the crime if it was for a misdemeanor. In some cases, the court may even bump down a felony to a misdemeanor conviction, since the term of probation is over, and it is considered completed by the state.

Once all the documents have been signed and stamped, your probation will be officially over, and you can then move on with your life. Or, if the court denies your request, you’ll need to either finish out your probation or try again with a new argument.

If you or someone you love needs help getting their probation ended early, don’t hesitate in reaching out to the attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. Call us at (213) 688-0460 or contact us online today!

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Posted in: Criminal Defense