How to End Probation Early

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A probationer can end his term of probation early by petitioning the court for termination. Typically, a party will hire an attorney to argue that he has exhibited good behavior or that circumstances warrant early termination. A party should request early termination from a judge, not from the probation officer.

What Happens After Early Termination?

After an early termination, the party is released from probation. He cannot be sentenced further for the offense for which he was placed initially on probation, but the offense remains on his record. The exception to this is if the prosecution agreed to drop the charge as part of the plea deal. Such an arrangement is called pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution.

After an early termination, a party may be eligible to have his record sealed or expunged. The two critical steps to this process are getting a copy of the party’s criminal record and filing a petition for expungement.

Exhibiting Good Behavior Is Key

A party requesting an early termination should show the court that she has behaved according to the terms of her sentence and is taking care not to commit further offenses. She should show evidence that she has gotten or kept a job, completed a substance abuse treatment program, compensated the victim for his damages (paid restitution), and made progress in her education, for example, by earning a GED. A party should also show that she has paid any fees and fines owing to the court, has met regularly with her probation officer and adhered to all the terms of her probation.

When a Party Is Ill

A party who becomes ill and cannot complete the terms of probation must show the court evidence of his illness and treatment. The party should work with his attorney and the court to provide proof of medical appointments, diagnoses and courses of treatment. Such actions may involve providing documents with blacked-out Social Security numbers, medical record numbers and calling a doctor to testify.

When a Party Needs to Move

A party who wants to move to a different county or state can request an early termination of probation. The party can also request a transfer of probation. When the transfer is between states, the process is called an Interstate Compact Transfer (ICT). The state in which the party is living and the state to which she is moving must both agree to the ICT.

Facing Opposition to Early Termination

The district attorney’s office is notified of a petition for early termination and may oppose the request. A party should address concerns the district attorney may present. For example, if the district attorney is worried that the party will contact the victim, the party should show that she frequently spotted the victim from afar, but always maintained an appropriate distance.

When There Is Another Case

When a party has been charged with an offense in a separate case, he should resolve the other case before requesting a hearing for early termination. It is extremely unlikely that the court will grant a request for early termination if the party has been charged with a new crime. The party may already be at risk for violation of the terms of his probation.

Sometimes a party has turned 18, but is still on juvenile probation for a delinquent act he committed as a minor. The party’s defense attorney can request an early termination of the juvenile probation. A criminal court judge is likely to grant this request. The early termination makes it easier for the party to be convicted, sentenced and assigned to a new term of probation as an adult, if necessary.

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About the Author

Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.