Early Termination of Probation – PC 1203.3 Overview
Upon conviction, a judge may order probation in lieu of incarceration depending on the seriousness of the crime, and potential risk to public safety. Under California law, there are two types of probation:
- Summary probation (or informal probation); and
- Felony probation (formal probation).
Certainly, avoiding time in jail or prison is always preferred, but the judge will order strict conditions that must be met in order to remain on probation, and ultimately successfully complete probation within a proscribed timeframe.
Maintaining regular communication with your attorney is critical because your attorney can advocate for you if there are any allegations of a violation of probation. If a judge finds a violation, the terms of probation may be modified, revoked or terminated and you could be incarcerated.
In contrast, early termination of probation is authorized under CA Penal Code 1203.3 PC and a judge may terminate probation ahead of schedule when the parolee has displayed superior compliance with the conditions of probation.
Moreover, according to the statute, the judge may grant early termination of probation at “any time when the ends of justice will be subserved.” Notably, most judges are hesitant to grant early termination of probation before one year of successful informal probation, or 18 months of successful formal probation.
An experienced defense attorney will be able to assess your progress with the requirements of probation and advise you on when to file a motion for early termination of probation.
What Factors Will a Judge Consider?
The primary factors that a judge will consider include the conduct of the person, and whether there has been sufficient reform. More specifically, the judge will also consider:
- showing of remorse and acceptance of responsibility
- active participation in therapy as ordered
- completion of any required community service
- payment of any fines and orders for restitution
- successful participation and/or completion of required classes
- the victim’s opinion, and whether there is risk to victim
- any potential impact on children, if involved, and whether a safety plan is in place
- no additional arrests or convictions
- satisfactory progress and/or completion of any other court ordered requirements
Certainly, an experienced criminal defense attorney will file a timely and persuasive motion detailing your compliance and successful efforts and compliance with the terms of probation. However, the judge will also consider the severity of the crime, your criminal history, the impact of your crime on victim(s) and public safety. Moreover, the judge may consider the prosecutor’s opinion on the motion, as well as any reports or opinions of your probation officer. Finally, the judge may also consider any hardship due to your probation such as:
- being unable to be gainfully employed
- restrictions on travel that impact work or family
- financial hardship due to inability to secure a loan or obtain benefits
The process for early termination of probation under PC 1203.3 is very technical, but an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to draft a persuasive motion and file and serve the parties as required under law. Moreover, your attorney will be able to advocate for you at the hearing and persuade the judge to grant the motion for early termination of probation.
Does PC 1203.3 include Expungement?
Often, a petition for expungement is filed concurrently with a motion for early termination of probation. Under California law, a judge may grant a petition for expungement upon successful completion of either formal probation or informal probation. Additionally, the person must not be currently charged with any criminal offense, on probation for a criminal offense, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense. Since these factors are similar to the factors that a judge would consider to grant a motion for early termination of probation, most courts will conduct one hearing to determine both requests.
An expungement is important because under the law, an expungement of a criminal conviction releases the person from all “penalties and disabilities due to the offense.” In other words, the judge will allow the defendant to change a previous plea of guilty or no contest to a plea of not guilty, and the judge will dismiss the case based on the successful completion of probation. As a result, many of the long-term consequences of a conviction will not continue such as:
- negative impact on state professional licenses
- need to disclose on a job application
- potential bias on housing applications
- possible impact on immigration status
More importantly, an expungement is evidence that your debt to society for a bad decision has been paid. This will provide you significant piece of mind, help you move on, and reduce stigma.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.