Probation is a common penalty for criminal convictions. Many crimes can result in one to three years of probation, during which time the defendant is subject to certain restrictions and requirements. Violating the terms of your probation can result in a longer probation period or event jail time, which is easy to do given the terms of many probation sentences. This puts probationers in a tough spot where they have to watch every move they make lest they want to find themselves back in court or jail. The good news is the court can terminate probation early or modify the terms with good cause.
The intent of probation is to rehabilitate the defendant from his or her criminal ways. Many probation sentences are set at one to three years, but not everyone needs this amount of time to rehabilitate. Penal Code 1203.3 (a) provides 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 so held.”
The legal code essentially states the court can end your probation early if it wants. But what are the benefits of probation termination or modification? And how you do ask the court to end your probation early?
Probation can hold you back in many ways. It can make it harder to get a job or advance in your career, clean your record, or even travel.
Let's start with the first benefit. Your probation terms—or the terms of your employment—can require you to notify your employer of your probation period. This poses several problems for someone trying to move past a criminal conviction. I've heard cases of probation officers showing up at a defendant's place of work, talking to the employer, and disclosing unnecessary information. If you are concerned about that happening to you, consider asking the court to terminate your probation period. Make sure you mention any real effects the probation is having on your career in your request. Likewise, you might have to disclose your probation to a potential employer, so consider terminating your probation if you are in the market for a job.
Second, terminating your probation can make you eligible to clean your record. Typically, you can't clean your record in California if you are still on probation. But once your probation ends, however, you might have many options for removing negative information from your criminal record. In fact, early termination of probation is most commonly requested in conjunction with a request to have a conviction dismissed. These often go hand in hand. The court will have to first terminate your probation to be able to dismiss your conviction.
Your probation terms can prohibit you from traveling. In many cases, you can travel as long as you notify your probation officer in advance, but even doing just that is an added hassle you can do without. The same goes for moving to another state or country. If you travel for work frequently, probation could affect your employment. Terminating your probation early can lift these restrictions, so you have the freedom to travel and move whenever you want.
It's important to understand that probation is an alternative to incarceration. You might get probation instead of a jail or prison sentence, so you should take it seriously. If you don't, you could be in violation of your probation and be sent to jail or prison. Unfortunately, the terms of probation can be strict, placing many restrictions on what you do.
You can ask the court to terminate your probation early, but you should first discuss this with an attorney. To have your request granted, you must first fulfill other components of your sentencing, such as paying court-ordered fines. You also need to demonstrate you have been rehabilitated. If you have violated your probation terms, that can be hard to do. You will need to complete a few forms and appear before a judge at a hearing. Having an attorney guide you through this process can increase your chance of having your request granted.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno, or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can explain your charges and help you fight them step by step. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and won't be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.