The Legal Process for Early Termination of Probation

Early Termination of ProbationIf you’ve been convicted of a crime or have pleaded guilty, there’s a good chance that a part of your sentence will involve a period of probation, where you’ll have some restrictions set on your activities and where you’ll have to report to a probation officer on a regular basis. Probation can become a real burden after a while, and if you’ve honored all your commitments and learned your lesson, you may want to see if the court will allow you to terminate the probation before the designated date. It can be done, but there’s a specific process you must follow.

Initiating the Process for Early Termination of Probation

In most states, to apply for early termination of court-ordered probation, you must contact your probation officer or a criminal defense attorney and must file a motion in the court where you were convicted. The motion must specifically request early termination of probation and must usually include the reasons why you believe early termination is warranted. Typically, if your probation officer agrees with the request and puts that in writing, the court will be inclined to grant your request.

The Factors the Court May Consider When Evaluating Your Request for Early Termination of Probation

If your probation officer has not weighed in on your request, the court may still grant your motion, but will customarily look at a number of issues first:

  • Have you paid all fines assessed as part of your conviction and have you made restitution to any victims?
  • Did you undergo counseling or treatment as ordered by the court and did you successfully complete those programs?
  • Have you complied with all terms established as part of your sentencing and probation?
  • Did you seek to better yourself while on probation? Did you look for employment or engage in training to help you develop marketable skills? Did you do volunteer or community service work while on probation?

The court can also factor in any real or potential hardships that continued probation may have, such as:

  • The inability to get or hold a job in your chosen field because of the probation requirement
  • The inability to see family because of any travel restriction imposed by the probation
  • The loss of any benefits because of probation

As a general rule, courts typically don’t allow for the early termination of probation until at least one half of the probationary period has elapsed.

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