About once a week, I get a call from a person who always wants to know
one thing. When can I get off of my probation? Most of the time the conditions
of probation are interfering with their work or they have been assigned
a new probation officer who they just don’t get along. Whatever
is their reasoning, they just want off of probation. This, of course,
can happen, but it usually is not automatic or certain.
Check the Disposition of Your Case
First, you need to read the disposition of your case to see if it reflects
“probation may be terminated early” or “no early termination
of probation.” It may not say either, but if it does, it gives you
a good insight to what the Court was originally thinking. “Probation
may be terminated early” gets your foot in the door, and makes your
request a little easier. “No early termination” does not shut
the door. There is case law that the Judge should consider new situations
of your sentence, but it does make terminating harder. So even if it is
written in your disposition, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask.
Filing a Motion for Early Termination of Probation
To request early release from probation, you need to file a
Motion for Early Termination of Probation in the court where you were convicted.
Before you can file, you need to make sure you have completed every condition
of your probation. That means
every condition. All fines and court costs must be paid in full. All community
service hours must be finished. All classes, and all recommended counseling
or treatment must be completed. All restitution must be paid in full.
Each and every condition that the Judge imposed on you must be done. If
you haven’t finished everything, you are just wasting your time
asking, and it probably won’t be granted.
By Granting a Motion for Early Termination, a Judge is rewarding you for
your hard work and good behavior. The Court is acknowledging that you
have done everything you have been asked to do. This is not guaranteed
or routine. The Court has been given full authority to use their discretion
in terminating your probation. It is not appealable, and no one can force
a Judge to do it. In the case of Ziegler v. State, 380 So.2d 564 (Fla.
3d DCA 1980), it was stated, “the authority conferred upon the court
by Section 948.05 is entirely a matter of grace”.
The Unwritten Rule
The interesting component of terminating your probation is the unwritten
rule. The unwritten rule is that the Court will not terminate your probation
until you have completed half of the time of the sentence. There is no
case law or statute to guide this, it is just an unwritten rule that most
Judges follow. And as most rules, it is not an absolute. There may be
really good reasons to terminate your probation, such as you need to move
or leave the country for your job or family, and you may successfully
ask to be terminated. However, the majority of times the Courts want you
to complete at least half of your sentenced probation.
Another consideration is that the Judge will also want input from the State
Attorney’s Office and/or your probation officer. The Judge will
want to find out how your probation is going, and whether any victims’
have an opinion to your motion. All these issues will have a direct impact
on you terminating your probation. Remember, granting your motion is a
reward, and the Judge will want to make sure you have done everything
right and that you are worthy of this reward.
Need to Get Off Probation? We Can Help.
If you are in the Orlando area, call Longwell Lawyers at (407) 593-5047
for a free consultation.