Would you like an early discharge from probation?
A defendant on reporting or non-reporting probation can file a motion for early termination of probation in the county where the conviction occurred.
Completing the Court Ordered Terms of Probation
Every case is different, so the defendant considering filing a Motion for Early Termination of Probation should consult a qualified criminal defense attorney beforehand. In Michigan, the maximum term of probation for a misdemeanor is two years, and up to three years for most felony offenses. Felony probation can be extended for up to two additional one-year terms if the judge finds a specific rehabilitation goal that has not yet been achieved or a clear, articulable, and ongoing risk of harm to a victim be mitigated only with continued probation supervision.
After a defendant has completed one-half of the original felony or misdemeanor probation term, they might be eligible for early discharge. If the probation department does not agree to seek early termination and the probationer has not violated probation in the preceding three (3) months, the probationer’s criminal defense lawyer can file a motion requesting early termination of probation.
If the defendant has not yet served one-half of the probation term, they can still file a motion for early discharge from probation; however, the judge is not required by law to consider the motion or, if the motion is denied, explain the reasons for not granting relief.
“What happens if my lawyer files a Motion for Early Termination of Probation?”
If your lawyer files a Motion for Early Termination of Probation, the sentencing judge will consider your conduct while on probation to determine if your behavior warrants an early discharge. If the court determines that your behavior warrants a reduction in the probationary term, the judge may grant an early termination of probation without holding a hearing in court. If a victim has requested notice of any request for early termination of probation, the court will conduct a hearing so the victim can be heard.
If, after reviewing the Motion for Early Termination of Probation, the court determines that the probationer’s behavior does not warrant an early discharge, the defendant is entitled to a hearing so that the lawyer can advocate for an early discharge. The only way a judge can deny the motion following a hearing is if they find on the record (meaning explain in open court) any specific rehabilitation goal that has not yet been achieved or clear, articulable, and ongoing risk of harm to a victim that can only be mitigated with continued probation supervision.
“Can I get an early termination of probation if I still owe restitution?”
Before granting early discharge to a probationer who owes outstanding restitution, the court must consider the impact of early discharge on the victim. If the defendant has made a good-faith effort to pay restitution and is otherwise eligible for early discharge, the court may grant an early discharge. Alternatively, the court can retain the probationer on probation up to the maximum allowable probation term for the offense but remove all terms and conditions of probation other than continuing restitution payments.
Advantages of Early Termination of Probation
There are several advantages of early termination of probation. Here are a few things to consider:
- Legal Restrictions: Completing probation early means that you are no longer subject to the legal restrictions and obligations imposed by probation. This can include curfews, travel restrictions, mandatory check-ins, and limitations on where you can live or work. Being released from these restrictions can provide more freedom and flexibility in your daily life.
- Peace of Mind: Probation often comes with the constant fear of violating its terms, which can lead to potential consequences such as additional probationary terms, fines, or even incarceration. By successfully completing probation early, you alleviate this stress and gain peace of mind, knowing that you have fulfilled your obligations and are no longer at risk of violating the terms.
- Rebuilding Reputation: Being on probation can sometimes carry a social stigma, as it may indicate past involvement in the criminal justice system. By completing probation early, you can expedite rebuilding your reputation and moving forward from the legal trouble you encountered.
- Employment and Education Opportunities: Having a clean record and being off probation can improve your prospects for employment and education. Many employers and educational institutions conduct background checks, and completing probation early demonstrates your commitment to rehabilitation and personal growth. It allows you to present yourself to potential employers or admissions committees more positively.
- Removal of Conditions: Probation often comes with specific conditions, such as mandatory drug testing, counseling, or community service. Completing probation early means you are no longer bound by these conditions, allowing you to focus your time, energy, and resources on other aspects of your life.
Exceptions to the Mandatory Consideration of Early Termination of Probation
A defendant convicted of Domestic Violence (DV), Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm (Assault GBH), Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC), human trafficking, or a case where the insanity defense was asserted, can file a Motion for Early Termination of Probation. Still, the judge is not required to consider the motion or state the rationale if the motion is denied.
Basic Points of Consideration Relative to a Motion for Early Termination of Probation
- Usually, the defendant must establish that they successfully completed the court-ordered jail/prison sentence, paid all fines and restitution, and completed all counseling requirements (alcohol, anger management, etc.), along with any other terms imposed at the time of their conviction.
- If the defendant has violated the terms of probation at any time, this will also affect the judge’s analysis.
- The court may also consider positive efforts made by the defendant while on probation. This can include:
- Efforts to acquire and maintain employment
- Engaging in volunteer and community service work
- Educational pursuits
- Hardships to the defendant as a result of the probation may also be considered.
Filing the Motion
The defendant should consult with a lawyer before filing any motion. Most Circuit Courts (including Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, and throughout Southeastern Michigan) and the various district courts in Michigan require formal pleadings (written motions) for these requests and a formal hearing in court. At the time of the hearing, the prosecutor’s office will have the opportunity to oppose the Motion and present arguments in response. The judge will then decide whether or not the Motion to Terminate Probation should be granted. The defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. routinely appear in courts throughout Michigan and have a track record of achieving exceptional results and extraordinary customer service.
Other Factors To Consider Regarding a Motion for Early Termination of Probation
Unless the defendant has served a significant portion of their probation term, filing a Motion for Early Termination of Probation might be premature. Additionally, it is essential to demonstrate to the court how the probation has impacted the defendant. An experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney can advise whether a Motion for Early Termination of Probation is appropriate and timely.
Many individuals experience problems such as loss of employment positions or job advancements, inability to pass background checks successfully, restrictions on travel, loss of benefits, and otherwise, as a result of being on “active probation status.” These types of issues can also be taken into consideration at the time of the hearing.
Consult with an experienced, effective criminal defense attorney today to determine whether or not you are eligible to have your probation terminated early. If you would like to have an attorney with extensive experience in filing and winning motions to terminate probation promptly contact you, call the criminal lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., who are not afraid to win!
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.