GUIDE TO EARLY TERMINATION OF PROBATION IN MICHIGAN
Helpful hints and criteria for ending a term of probation early
OVERVIEWMany criminal convictions are resolved with probation, either a specific term in a plea agreement or set by the judge after a plea or trial. Michigan law says it is the intent of the legislature that the granting of probation is a matter of grace conferring no vested right to its continuance. Probation is overseen by the probation department, and governed by the sentencing judge. Before a probation period terminates, the probation officer reports the probationer's conduct during the probation period to the Court.
MCL 771.2(2) allows early termination of felony probation. [These tips may also apply to misdemeanor probation.] The statute says after the defendant has completed 1/2 of the original [felony] probation period, the probation department may notify the sentencing court. The court can reduce the term by 100% or less. It is not required, your performance on probation really matters.
The probation officer ("PO") is the doorkeeper to your liberty and should be the person you do the most to impress. Your conduct must demonstrate an appreciation for the "grace" extended to you, and that you are not likely to engage in any offensive or criminal conduct again!
Possible probation conditions are numerous. Your objective should be to comply, without delay, and exceed the requirements where possible. But don't pay more money than ordered, fees and costs will be high enough, and paying extra will not benefit you.
TEN TIPS FOR EARLY TERMINATION(1) DO NOT BREAK THE LAW AND WATCH THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. That means any city, state or federal law. Even if you're not charged, having police contact alone (especially without notification to your PO) can be a violation. Being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people will hurt your credibility with your PO, and the Court.
(2) MAKE SURE YOUR PO KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE AT ALL TIMES. Do not leave the state (even just for one day) without consent. Maintain open communication with your PO. Get in writing, any provisions or permissions that are exceptions to original terms.
(3) REPORT TO YOUR PO AS ORDERED AND BE EARLY. Show up on time and dressed professionally. If you have an emergency that prevents you from reporting as scheduled, call immediately, leave messages, AND still show up at your earliest possible opportunity. If all else fails, go to the court. Use the same energy you would if there was a million-dollar check waiting for you!
(4) PAY YOUR FINES AND COSTS WITHOUT DELAY. This includes supervision fees, restitution, and any other financial obligations. If you can't pay all at once, make a good faith effort, pay the most you can on a regular (at least monthly) basis. Ask if you can perform community service.
(5) COMPLETE ANY ORDERED COMMUNITY SERVICE ASAP. Dedicate your first available time to this. It will show you appreciate the "grace", that you care about the debt you owe to your community, and may open doors to employment if you are unemployed.
(6) ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN ANY ORDERED TREATMENT PROGRAMS OR COUNSELING. Apply yourself, surpass all expectations, take it seriously. Don't be afraid to ask your counselor for a letter or progress report.
(7) ABIDE BY ANY RESTRICTIONS OR ELECTRONIC MONITORING. Do not miss curfew, enter restricted areas, tamper with the unit or contact any prohibited individuals. If the victim in your case now wants to have contact with you, don't do it without written permission from the Court.
(8) BE DILIGENT. If you are ordered to complete education, vocation, GED, do so and apply yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for a letter or progress report.
(9) GET A LEGITIMATE JOB. Unless you are a full-time student or disabled, get a job or maintain your employment. "Under-the-table" is not legitimate, it's tax evasion, and does not show the stability or responsibility you want the court to see.
(10) GET A GOOD CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU. You do not know the rules of the court, how to deal with the prosecution, or the best thing to say to convince your judge to terminate probation early. An experienced attorney gives you the best chance of winning your motion for early termination of probation.
CONCLUSIONIdeally, you should apply these principles from the start of probation. However, even if you stumbled a bit in the beginning, recovery is key. Having a good lawyer by your side can make sure all the right arguments are made to give you the best odds of bringing your probation to early termination.