If you avoided some jail time and were sentenced to probation instead, you’re no doubt relieved on some level. But probation is no picnic. Probation may be ordered for misdemeanors or felonies and can have a wide range of lengthy and oppressive requirements.
Nightly curfews, random drug tests, and travel restrictions can weigh heavily on you and can affect all aspects of your life. If you’ve done everything right and are following all the rules, shouldn’t you get a break?
Under Arizona law, probation can be terminated early under some circumstances. The court can do so on its own initiative, or it can act based on a petition of the individual on probation. If you haven’t had any probation violations and have followed the court’s orders, you could be eligible for early termination of probation.
Early termination of probation is permitted in cases where the defendant has exhibited good behavior, and the interest of justice is served by terminating probation before the full sentence is served. If you think that sounds vague, you’re right. Like many other aspects of sentencing, the judge has a lot of discretion in early termination decisions.
Nobody likes rules that interfere with their freedom. But probation can affect the ones you love as well. Being on probation could prevent you from traveling to meaningful family events. It might interfere with custody rights or parenting time.
In addition to putting a damper on your personal freedom, probation can stall your ability to pursue your professional goals. You may have trouble getting a job if you’re on probation.
Freeing yourself from the confines of probation opens up doors. Depending on the crimes for which you’ve been sentenced, you could be eligible to have your judgment set aside once your probation is terminated.
The Arizona statute that provides for early termination doesn’t have specific criteria that determine who’s eligible. To be considered, you must submit an application for early termination of probation to the court.
The court will consider a number of factors, including whether you have:
An attorney with experience in criminal law can help you determine whether you are a good candidate for early termination of probation.
In determining whether to approve your application, the judge will take into consideration:
Applying for early termination of probation doesn’t mean you’re trying to get out of anything. The law provides for it for a reason. If you deserve it, you should get it.
There really isn’t a set time required or permitted by law, but generally, you should have served about 50% of your probation term before applying for early termination. If you’ve been sentenced to lifetime probation, you might be in a position to apply after you’ve completed about 7-10 years.
You should also make sure all fees and restitution are paid in full. You’ll have a better chance of success if you don’t have outstanding obligations to the court or to the victim.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may have a shot at applying earlier. Or, if you have hefty fines to pay off, you might be better off waiting a bit longer. There are really no set rules, so it’s best to contact an experienced lawyer to help you decide what’s best for your situation.
While you might be allowed to file the application on your own, you’ll have a much better chance of success with an experienced criminal defense lawyer handling it for you.
A reputable attorney will pay attention to details like:
An attorney will make sure the application is submitted properly and contains compelling supporting documentation that weighs in your favor.
The first step is submitting your application. Determining when to submit your application is a strategic decision and one best left to your attorney (actually, the recommended first step is hiring the best criminal defense attorney in your area to handle the whole process).
Court processes can be slow, so understand that it may take time for a hearing to be set and additional time for the court’s decision. After your application is submitted, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, you’ll have an opportunity to present evidence in your favor. The prosecutor’s office may present an argument and evidence against approval.
Then, the judge will weigh all of the evidence and make a decision.
If you had a minor technical violation, you still might be able to successfully get early termination of probation. For example, if you were late for a meeting with your PO, late paying a fine, or missed a counseling session, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck. It all depends on the strength of the rest of your application.
If you have had a probation violation, that’s all the more reason to have a thorough, experienced, and dedicated criminal defense lawyer handle your application for early termination.