Written by attorney Jason W. Swindle

Early Termination of Probation in Georgia

Early Termination of Probation The term probation is most clearly defined as a jail or prison sentence that is allowed to be served while living in the community. While on probation, the probationer must abide by general conditions, such as reporting to a probation officer and staying out of trouble. Additionally, there may be special conditions such as community service as well. While being placed on probation can seem to some to be inconvenient and restrictive, it should actually be viewed as a gift. Oftentimes, the main goal of the criminal defense attorney is to negotiate a plea whereby the client serves a probated sentence in lieu of going to prison. Negotiated pleas involving probation have saved many lives, particularly for first offenders. However, there are limited circumstances where being on probation can become detrimental to the probationer, his family, and society. While there are many examples of this, the most common are interference with work opportunities, military service, and problems associated with moving to other states that cannot or will not supervise the probationer. Fortunately, there is a remedy that can help a probationer under some scenarios. This is early termination of probation. As I said, once a probationer has started his sentence, he will have conditions to meet. He may also have fines, restitution, or other special conditions that must be satisfied. Once all of the conditions of probation are met, the probationer is usually placed on unsupervised status. At this point, the probationer may be eligible for early termination of probation if he has remained employed, maintained a stable residence, abided by all conditions of probation, and has no law enforcement contacts or violations of the criminal laws of this State. When the probationer has satisfied these conditions of probation and/or when the court is satisfied that termination would be in the best interest of justice and the welfare of society, the court may discharge the probationer from the sentence. When considering early termination of probation, it is extremely important for a probationer to discuss his desires with his probation officer before seeing an attorney. The probation officer is the one individual who can significantly help or hurt a probationer seeking an early termination. Probation can fill out certain documents detailing the success of the person while on probation and even give live testimony in court at the motion hearing. The probation officer can also recommend that the probationer remain on probation because of a wide variety of problems that the probationer has encountered. The point is that a probationer must have the probation officer "on board" to have any realistic chance of being released early from probation. Once a probationer believes that he has fulfilled all of his obligations connected to probation and has a positive recommendation from his probation officer, then he is in a position to petition the court for early termination. The petitioner must file his motion, have a hearing on the matter, and wait for the judge's ruling. If the judge signs an order terminating the defendant's probation, then his case is finished and he can move on with the rest of his life.

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