A probation sentence is usually one of the penalties imposed on defendants who have been convicted of a crime. The probation term can last up to five years for a misdemeanor conviction or longer. When imposing probation, courts will typically require the defendant to comply with a myriad of requirements, including jail time, mandatory classes, or community service. And even after completing these requirements, the offender will have to live with the stigma of having a criminal conviction long after serving his/her penalties. If you’re anxious to put the past behind you, California Penal Code 1203.3 makes this possible for defendants on probation.
Penal Code 1203.3
Penal Code 1203.3 allows defendants to petition the court to have their probation modified or terminated. The cherry on top is that you can simultaneously file for an expungement of the underlying conviction under Penal Code 1203.4. Probations typically come with tight reigned restrictions on your life that often limit opportunities, including finding employment or advancing in your career. Early termination and an expungement would mean that you’re no longer obligated to check those pesky boxes in your applications that ask about your criminal history. Early termination and getting an expungement means freedom and a chance at a new beginning without a bad rap sheet.
Steps to get your Probation Terminated
Typically, a judge would want to determine if you’ve followed all your requirements to the letter. Aside from that, the following are five key steps that can help you get your probation shortened or dismissed.
1. Hire an experienced attorney
The first thing you need to do is retain a California criminal defense attorney with experience in filing modification or early termination motions. Your attorney should help you do the following:
- Navigate the legal processes involved
- Complete the paperwork correctly
- Present your case to the judge for consideration for early termination
An experienced attorney will know how to proceed in each step of the process. In some cases, it might not be necessary for you to attend the hearing if your attorney is in attendance. This is why having an attorney with sufficient experience is critical for your case.
2. Keep your record clean
Your attorney can only present a strong argument if you’ve kept your record clean since your conviction. A judge will more than likely grant your request if you meet the requirements and have exhibited good conduct and reform throughout your probation term. This simply means that your attorney must show that you’re not a risk to the public, you’ve learned from your mistakes, and you’re now moving in a positive direction.
Showing good conduct and reform also typically entails fulfilling all the terms of your probation, including:
- Paying restitution and fines
- Finishing court-ordered classes
- Completing your community service hours
- Complying with any other court-imposed requirements
- No arrests for any other offenses
3. Complete at least half of your probation period
Legally, the law allows defendants to file a petition at any time of their probation term. Judges also have the discretion to dismiss the probation at any time, but they generally don’t grant your request until you have served at least half of your probation sentence. Once again, this is not a legal requirement, but judges want you to justify an early termination through observable good conduct and reform.
4. File a motion in court
If you want to petition the court for early termination, you must have your lawyer file a formal request. Your lawyer will need to provide valid reasons for why the probation should be terminated, including how it is restricting necessary travel or that it is a hindrance to your career.
The prosecution will also be notified of the petition and will be given a chance to oppose your request. A skilled attorney will know the right way to file your petition and how to negotiate with the prosecutor.
5. The hearing
Once all the paperwork is finished, both the defense and the prosecution will be given a chance to argue their case at a court hearing. That is why you need not only an experienced lawyer but a convincing one. Generally, judges are persuaded to grant your request if you have displayed good conduct and reform. However, other additional factors will heavily influence their decision like:
- The severity of the crime
- Your criminal history
- The prosecutor’s opinion
- The impact of the probation on your normal life
Can I also Get my Record Expunged?
In most cases, your attorney will file a petition to dismiss your probation concurrently with a petition for an expungement. If granted Penal Code 1203.3, your conviction is usually expunged at the same time under Penal Code 1203.4. You will only be eligible for an expungement if:
- You are no longer on probation, or your probation has been dismissed
- You are currently not on probation for another offense
- You are currently not serving a sentence for another offense
In cases where the defendant was convicted of a felony, if the court agrees to dismiss the felony probation early, they will also typically reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and dismiss your record all at the same time.
If you’re currently serving your probation term in California, you can always consider filing a petition to dismiss or reduce your probation. We here at the Law Office of Don Hammond believe that no one should suffer the consequences of their mistakes for a lifetime. It is, therefore, imperative to speak to a Los Angeles, criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in successfully arguing for early termination or reduction of probation for his clients. For more information about early probation termination and to schedule a consultation, contact us at (323) 529-3660 or walk into any of our Los Angeles offices.