Terminating Your Probation Early: Part 1
Can I terminate my probation early?
Can I terminate probation early? I get this question almost every day. Thankfully I am able to answer the question affirmatively that yes you can terminate your probation if you have completed all of your conditions. In Florida, Statute 948.05 allows the Judge to commend and discharge a probationer if it is in the best interests of justice and it would benefit society.
What Does A Judge Look At When Deciding Whether To Terminate Your Probation?
Before filing a motion to terminate probation you want to make sure that you have completed all of your conditions. Conditions of probation may include community service hours, drug counseling, negative drug testing, classes related to anger, domestic violence, drugs or other issues, restitution, fines, court costs and costs of supervision. Whatever they may be, if you do not complete ALL of the conditions, you stand no chance at getting off probation. The Judge is going to look at the original charge, any prior violations of probation, and the length of time of probation, how fast the conditions were completed and the individual circumstances behind the request.
If I have not completed the halfway point of my probation is it worth even trying?
While Florida law does not place a minimum time before one can file a motion requesting termination of probation, it is commonplace for most criminal lawyer to advise people to wait until their “halfway point” of probation before filing such a motion. The general consensus among most probation attorneys is that Judges will usually not grant such a motion until a defendant has completed at least half of the term of probation. I do not always agree with this viewpoint as I believe that it is a benefit to society for a probationer to try and get off early as soon as he or she has completed their conditions. Why? It does not make sense to tax the citizens of Florida by having a probationer continue to supervise a person who has been motivated enough to successfully complete all of their conditions without violating. If Florida allowed all probationers who completed their conditions to terminate early, there would be less people on probation and theoretically it would cost the State less because the cost of supervision for these offenders would decrease as the number of probationers would decrease.
You should try to get off probation as soon as you complete your conditions even if you have not served your halfway point. Why? There are so many people who violate probation, the Judges very rarely get to see someone who has not only completed their conditions but in record time. Judges may get cynical over time because of the amount of people who screw probation up and if they get to see someone who has a great track record and has followed the court’s probation order verbatim, they may be more inclined to grant the motion to reward the person for their good behavior. After all, Florida Statute 948.05 even seems to encourage the Court to commend probationers who have been successfully supervised. Even if the Judge does not grant it, the court will be on notice, that you are proactively seeking to get off probation and if you fail the first time, you might stand a better chance at getting off at the halfway point when you file your motion again.