What you Need to Know about Terminating your Probation

About once a week in Central Florida, 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 with 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 in Orlando, Florida

First, you need to read the Central Florida 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 into 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 with most rules, it is not 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 on 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.

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Categories: Criminal Law