Probation can restrict you in many ways. It may prevent you from traveling, moving to find work or be close to family, or in some cases even holding a job at all. It also interferes with living a normal life and getting everything back on course after your conviction. In California, however, you have the right to end your probation early under some circumstances. The best way to get started is to talk to a lawyer.
The attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group can help you. We understand California’s complex probation system and we know how to win early termination requests. We believe that you should be able to put your sentence behind you and move forward with your life as soon as possible. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What is probation and how is it supposed to work in California?
Probation is part of the sentence you are given when convicted.
It can be used one of two ways:
- As a sentence you serve instead of jail time (as long as you don’t break your probation conditions). Or,
- As an additional penalty you serve after completing your jail time.
Either way, probation consists of a period of time in which you are “proving” yourself and your ability to follow the law. It typically lasts several years, and it may be formal (supervised) or informal (unsupervised). There are generally specific conditions you have to meet, including not committing any more crimes during the probation period. However, most probation sentences come with much more complex conditions, which may be hard to meet or may even cost you significant money—such as mandatory classroom courses that you have to pay for yourself.
If you violate your probation, you may face additional penalties including going to jail. This means that, unfortunately, probation often serves as a hook that pulls people back into the criminal justice system even when they are trying to live an honest life.
What is the difference between formal and informal probation?
These are two different forms of probation with radically different rules.
- Informal probation is usually used for misdemeanor crimes. It is “unsupervised” in that there is no probation officer you have to check in with regularly. However, that does not make it easy to complete—instead, the burden of completing all of your probation requirements is on you, and you must keep track of all dates, obligations and rules yourself. This may include drug or alcohol treatment, mandatory classes, installing a breathalyzer device in your car, wearing an ankle bracelet, house arrest, community service or completing specific programs. You have to document meeting each requirement and show the court that you completed it by a specific date.
- Formal probation is usually used in felony cases. Not all felonies carry this form of probation, but violent offenses (and sex crimes) usually do. This is also called “supervised” probation because, in most cases, you are assigned a probation officer that you must report to at regular, scheduled times to check on you. Your probation officer will check on:
- Whether you are looking for work (or currently working) and how it’s going
- What activities you have been up to
- Whether you are meeting obligations for any court-ordered programs
Additionally, formal probation comes with onerous restrictions: you are subject to random drug testing, you cannot move or travel out of state without telling your officer (or even change jobs), and you might be ordered not to associated with certain people.
How can I end my probation early?
Both forms of probation can be expensive, frustrating and interfere with your life. If you’d like to end your probation, you can request that the judge terminate the probation early. Technically, you can do this at any time after being sentenced, but in practice you must wait at least some time so that you can prove you are not re-offending and are living a stable, law-abiding life. Otherwise the judge is likely to turn down your request.
When you apply for early termination, understand that your request is decided entirely at the judge’s discretion. The judge has the ability to modify or end your probation, but only if doing so will serve justice.
To apply, you or your attorney must file a motion with the court. The steps are:
- File a motion for early termination with the court where you were convicted/sentenced
- Give the prosecutor at least two days’ notice before the hearing
- Prepare supporting evidence including:
- Proof you have not re-offended or committed any new crimes
- Proof you have no other unresolved criminal matters
- Documentation that you have completed all court-ordered requirements of your probation
- Documentation that you have paid restitution to the victims (if restitution was ordered)
It can also help to have proof that you are employed, active in the community, and living a responsible life. Letters from clergy, employers or community leaders (or even neighbors) strongly help your case.
Early termination requests are most likely to succeed if you have not had any probation violations, but you can apply either way—you will simply need to show that you have straightened out.
Talk to a California Probation Lawyer for Free
Ending your probation is an important step toward freedom and moving on with your life. Don’t let probation requirements drag on for years. The Simmrin Law Group can help you prepare the strongest application possible, and argue your case for you before the judge. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.