Motions for Early Termination of Probation
Early Termination of Probation means you are asking the court to end your probation before the you have served the full term of your probation.
You may want to terminate your probation early to make yourself eligible for an expungement, or because being on probation is prohibiting you from doing other things in your life or prohibiting you from taking advantage of other opportunities.
—Early Termination for Expungements
You must be off of probation on all cases in order to be eligible for an expungement on any case. You will either have to wait for your probation to expire, or you can request to have your probation terminated early pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.3.
—Early Termination for Other Opportunities
Sometimes probation conditions or the mere fact that you are on probation can prohibit you from taking advantage of opportunities in your life. For example, probation may make it difficult for you to travel outside of the county, state, or country. Terminating probation early means you will no longer have to worry about the terms of your probation when applying for jobs, school, or other opportunities. If your probation was transferred through interstate compact, terminating probation will mean you are off probation in the state you are living. Please note if you are on probation for a case that started in San Diego but was transferred to another county in California, you would have to ask the court in the county currently supervising you to terminate probation.
AB-1950, otherwise known as Penal Code section 1203.1, recently took effect in January 2021. This law shortens many misdemeanor probationary periods from three years to one year and many felony probationary periods from three years to two years. There are exceptions to this law, and some offenses have longer probationary periods by law. Your Fresh Start Attorney will be able to tell you the length of your probation.
Penal Code section 1203.3(a) states in part that, “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 held.” This means that it is up to a judge to determine if terminating probation is in the interests of justice in any given case.
In most cases, the court will not entertain these motions unless a person has already been on probation for ½ of the time ordered. (Ex: If probation term is two years, the person has already been on probation for one year.) In practice, the judge also considers 1) whether someone has fulfilled all the terms of their probation, 2) how well they performed on probation, 3) their criminal record, and 4) why someone needs to get off of probation early.
It is important that there be no outstanding terms of probation when making this request. Terms of probation include things like court-ordered classes, volunteer work, and payment of fines. If a person still has terms, they were ordered by the court to complete, the court will not be persuaded to take them off probation early. The Court will conclude that it is best to keep the person on probation until all terms have been completed. Once a person is off probation, the court loses the power to order someone to do something, or to punish them for not doing something, so it makes sense for the court to keep a person on probation until everything is complete.
The judge will also look at how well a person performed while on probation. Did the person get in trouble for new offenses or get in trouble with the court or the probation officer for not completing a term of probation? Did the person violate the terms of probation by doing something that they weren’t supposed to do? (Ex: tested positive for drugs or alcohol, did not attend court-ordered classes.) A person with no probation violations is more likely to get probation terminated early than a person who did violate probation.
The judge will want to look at a person’s criminal history when making this decision. If a person has a history of violating probation or picking up new crimes while being on probation, the court may want the person to stay on probation for the full period of time to make sure the person does not get in trouble again.
Finally, the judge will also consider why the person is seeking this relief to terminate probation early. If a person just wants to be off of probation, that may not be a compelling enough reason for the court, as everyone would prefer not to be on probation. However, if the person needs to be off of probation in order to get a better job, find better housing, move to a different state more easily, or take advantage of some other important opportunity, the judge will want to know about it and consider it.
If a person is trying to get off probation early, they should be sure all the terms of probation have been completed and fulfilled. They should also identify why they need to get off of probation early- what opportunities are they losing by being on probation? Finally, they should get as much documentation possible to support why they deserve to get off probation early. This can be in the form of support letters from people close to them in their lives, certificates of achievement, transcripts, and any other proof to show the court all the wonderful things this person is doing to move forward in their lives and move forward from their conviction.
If the motion is denied and the court does not terminate probation early, probation will simply continue as it was before.