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How do I get off probation early?

Sacramento, CA |

I was place on 5 year felony probation. Yet I am on a lowrisk caseload (no check ins). I have already completed 2 and a half years. At the beginning of my probation I was told that is the lent of time needed to get off early. How do I accomplish this?

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Attorney answers 2


Only a judge can terminate probation early. You will need to file a motion for early termination of probation with the court.

In some counties, the Probation Department will actually file these motions for probationers who are doing well. You might also contact the attorney who represented you in the case.

It will help if you can point to specific reasons that probation should be terminated, such as a job or educational opportunity, or that you are supporting a family and the $125 a month or so in probation supervision fees are a hardship.

Some felonies, known as "wobblers," can be reduced to misdemeanors. If your conviction qualifies, you should probably request a reduction at the same time.

Under Penal Code §1203.4, a person who is granted probation can apply to have the case dismissed after probation is complete. This is sometimes called an expungement, but it doesn't really expunge anything or seal your record. The conviction is still a part of the court's public records, which will also show the case was dismissed. You still must disclose the conviction when applying to be a police officer or for certain other jobs, or if asked on an application for a state license or to run for public office. It will not remove any restrictions on your right to own a firearm or relieve you of the requirement to register as a sex offender. The conviction can still be considered a prior offense; for instance, a prior theft conviction could make any future petty theft a felony, or a prior DUI conviction could be used to increase the punishment in subsequent DUI convictions.

BEWARE of law firms that promise to "clear your record" and charge thousands of dollars. The process of filing a Penal Code §1203.4 petition is pretty simple, and you can do it yourself with forms available from the court clerk's office, especially if you completed probation without any problems. If you had a probation violation along the way, you may want an attorney's help, but the guys who charge thousands to file simple paperwork will probably overcharge you for that, too.

California Labor Code §432.7 says employers can't ask about any arrest that didn't result in a conviction, inquire about it from other sources or use it in a hiring decision.

Some attorneys interpret this Labor Code section to mean you don't have to disclose a conviction that was dismissed under Penal Code §1203.4, but I usually advise clients to disclose it, with an explanation that the conviction was subsequently dismissed.

Please understand that this is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer and does not create an attorney/client relationship. It's impossible to give detailed, accurate advice based on a few sentences on a website (and you shouldn't provide too much specific information about your legal matter on a public forum like this site, anyway). You should always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who can give you an informed opinion after reviewing all of the relevant information.


You can make a motion to terminate probation early. You need a good reason for the court to do so (work, military, immigration) and must have completed all the conditions of probation, except time. In Los Angeles, they will generally do it when you've completed 2/3 of the time.

Edward J. Blum