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Early Termination of Probation in California – Penal Code 1203.3

Posted by Sam Israels | Nov 27, 2019

Under California Penal Code 1203.3, a judge has the legal authority to terminate probation early, but it will only be granted If you can show the court “good cause” – meaning you have to show the court good reasons for early termination.

If you are seeking an early termination of probation, call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review your situation as we could file a petition to the court.

Once you are convicted of a crime, the court will normally order a certain period of probation – level of supervision – depending on the type of case – either a misdemeanor or felony.

For instance, if convicted of a felony crime, you will be under formal probation meaning you have to report every month to a probation officer. If convicted of a misdemeanor, there will be no such requirement.

If you pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI, you will normally be placed on probation for three to five years. This means it could prove difficult to secure employment or get a professional license. If the courts grant your petition for early termination of probation, they will often expunge your criminal record.

In situations where your case is a felony “wobbler,” the court might decide to reduce your case to a misdemeanor. It should be noted that before any judge will grant early termination of probation, you will have to already successfully completed the terms of your probation. This means paying all your fines, restitution, and completion of any classes that were ordered by the court.

Definition of PC 1203.5 Early Probation Termination

California Penal Code 1203.3 defines early termination of probation:

  • The court has authority any time during the period of probation to revoke or modify order of suspension of imposition, or execution of the sentence. The court can also at any time, when the ends of justice will be served, when good conduct of defendant on probation warrants it, terminate probation, and discharge defendant.

It's important to note that while PC 1203.3 gives the court authority to grant early release from probation “at any time,” judges will need to see actual proof you have already successfully completed at least 12 months of probation before they will consider early termination.

The legal process to get you probation terminated early requires a formal hearing so the court can determine if you are eligible. In Los Angeles County Criminal Courts, the hearing is known as a “motion to modify probation.”

Your criminal lawyer has to file the motion with the court and prosecutor's office two days before the date of the hearing – and they will normally speak with the prosecutor about your request.

You lawyer may be able to make the appearance at the hearing on your behalf and you won't have to attend in person.

Eligibility Requirements for Early Termination of Probation

Judges won't normally grant your petition for early release from probation unless you have already met the following eligibility requirements:

  • Fully paid all court fines and restitution
  • Completed community service hours
  • Don't have any new arrest or pending cases
  • Not on probation for another offense
  • Completed at least half of your probation period
  • Successfully completed all obligations, such as court-ordered classes and counseling

If you meet the eligibility requirements, the court could grant early termination of probation if you good conduct and reform justifies the action. Typically, this means the court believes you are not a risk to public safety and are moving your life in a positive direction.

Factors Considered for Terminating Probation Early

When a judge is considering whether to grant you early termination of probation, they normally take into consideration many different factor to make their decision:

  • Severity of conduct causing conviction
  • Danger to society
  • Prior criminal record
  • Other probation violations
  • Chances of re-offending
  • If the crime was against children or elderly
  • If probation is causing hardships, such as employment
  • Reasons for seeking early probation termination

There are other considerations, such as travel restrictions preventing visiting members of your family.

Hearing for Ending Probation Early

At the actual hearing to decide early termination of probation, your criminal attorney make a request to the judge to grant your motion by explaining that all your good conduct and reform justifies the request for early release, and it serves the best interests of justice.

The prosecutor will also have their opportunity to respond to the motion and might challenge your lawyer's argument against granting your motion. Once both sides have made their arguments, then it's up to the judge to make a decision. It should be noted judges are given a lot of discretion on ruling on a petition for early termination of probation.

If the court decides to discharge your status of probation, it will relieve you of any further obligations.  If they deny the petition, you can re-petition the court at a later date.

Learn How We Can Help You

There are many benefits of getting your probation terminated early. For example, you can now seek an expungement of your criminal record, which could help you find employment.

Additionally, you may be able to obtain relief from mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290 and removed from Megan's List.

It might even help you restore your California gun rights. Early probation termination also ends your risk of being charged with probation violation.

If you wish to file a petition for an early termination of probation, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law to determine if you are eligible and to discuss options. We are familiar with the process and might be able to make a persuasive argument to give you the best chance of success.

The eligibility and process for early probation of termination motion can be complex. We will review your situation in order to determine the best strategy with filing a petition.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with decades of combined experience and a track record of success. We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Call our office for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.

About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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