If you are convicted of a criminal offense in California you could be sentenced to a term of probation in lieu of, or in addition to, a term of incarceration. While probation is certainly preferable to jail or prison, the rules and regulation that a probationer must follow can be cumbersome and restrictive. Fortunately, California allows a probationer to petition for early termination of probation under certain conditions.
California Penal Code § 1203.3 (a) provides in part:
“The court may at any time when the ends of justice will be served 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”.
Early termination of probation in California is not a right that you automatically have, but is a privilege that the court may grant you if the court is convinced that there is good reason to do so. For the court to grant a petition for early termination of probation the judge will typically need to see proof that you have completed all of the conditions of your probation. In addition, the judge must be convinced that circumstances warrant early termination. Some common probation conditions that you may need to complete before petitioning for early termination include:
- Payment of all fees, fines, and costs
- Payment of restitution
- Completion of classes or counseling
- Completion of community service work
- No positive drug tests
- No missed appointments without good cause
Early termination of probation in California often accomplishes more than simply releasing you from the restrictive conditions of probation. In most cases, if you are on misdemeanor probation the court will also dismiss the record of your conviction. Similar to what people often refer to as “expunging” your record, dismissal actually removes the original conviction from your criminal record. If you were convicted of a “wobbler” offense, or an offense that could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, the court will often reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and then dismiss the charge when you successfully petition for early termination of probation.
As you can see there are several good reasons why terminating your probation early is desirable. If you are currently on probation in California be sure to consult with your criminal defense attorney to find out when and how you can terminate probation early. In the meantime, be sure to follow all the rules and work toward completion of any specific conditions to ensure that your petition to terminate early is granted when the time comes.