Early Termination of Probation

Penal Code Section 1203.3

Penal Code Section 1203.3 gives a judge power to terminate your probation early. Being on probation can have unforeseen collateral consequences - it may be difficult to secure gainful employment, prevent you from advancing at your job, or getting a loan. Terminating your probation lifts any restrictions being on probation has on your life. It also means that you qualify to have your record expunged.  

Judges have great discretion in deciding whether to terminate your probation early. They are often reluctant to grant the motion because you made a commitment to the court to finish out your probation. Because of this, a skilled attorney is critical.

  • Eligibility
  • Expungement

Eligibility – Who is eligible for early termination of probation?

Section 1203.3 gives a judge the authority to terminate probation early when the "ends of justice will be subserved" and "when the good conduct and reform of the person held on probation shall warrant it…". Put differently the court is looking for three things:  

  1. You must have completed the terms of your probation. Probation terms often include fines, classes, or restitution. You must have completed any and all terms before the court will consider granting your request for early termination of probation

  2. The court will consider the circumstances of the underlying offense, your criminal history and personal history. The court is particularly concerned with any new arrests, convictions, or complications with probation.

  3. There must be circumstances that justify your early termination of probation. The court considers whether probation is causing hardships in your life. If probation is preventing you from earning or receiving any sort of meaningful benefit like restricting your travel or preventing you from getting a job – then there are circumstances that justify your early termination of probation.

The only timing requirement is that a motion must be filed with the court and prosecution at last two dates prior to the court hearing. This means the motion to terminate your probation early can be brought at any time during your probation. However, judges typically prefer that probation be about halfway done.

Expungement – The relationship between early termination of probation and expunging your record.

While terminating your probation early lifts on hardships probation causes, the biggest benefit is that it qualifies you to have your record expunged. Expungement has several benefits, most notably the ability to say you have never been convicted of an offense in most circumstances and applications. In certain circumstances, the judge is required to grant a request for expungement, if early termination for probation has been granted.

When requesting that your probation be terminated early, you may also have your record "expunged." If the underlying offense is a felony, we will also file a petition to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.

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