Under Florida law there are three avenues that result in a Defendant (Probationer) having their probation terminated early. The first two require that a motion be filed with the Court and are either mandatory or discretionary with regard to the Judge’s power to either grant or deny the request. The third is automatic early termination upon the completion of an event such as paying the full amount of restitution.
Motion for Early Termination of Probation
A Motion for early termination may be filed by the Defendant or their Probation Officer, however, the Department of Corrections rarely, if ever allows officers to do so. Consequently, such an action for relief is most often brought by an attorney acting on their client’s behalf. Motions must include specific facts and at least one court hearing is required whereby the judge determines whether to grant or deny the motion after listening to arguments from both the State and Defense. The position of the Defendant’s Probation Officer may also be taken into account; however, the judge is not bound to their recommendation.
Mandatory Early Termination of Probation
Florida Statute 948.04(4) was recently enacted to allow for Mandatory Early Termination of probation. Under the new law, Judges must sign orders releasing individuals from being supervised who qualify.
Specifically, Defendants who were placed on probation on or after October 1, 2019 are entitled to have their probation terminated or converted to “Non-Reporting” Administrative Probation provided that the following conditions are met:
- The probationer has completed at least half of the term of probation to which he or she was sentenced.
- The probationer has successfully completed all other conditions of probation. The court has not found the probationer in violation of probation pursuant to a filed affidavit of violation of probation at any point during the current supervisory term.
- The parties did not specifically exclude the possibility of early termination or conversion to administrative probation as part of a negotiated sentence.
- The probationer does not qualify as a violent felony offender of special concern under Florida Statute 948.06.
While the courts have been directed to grant motions to early terminate under the above listed circumstances, judges still retain the authority to deny motions. Florida Statute 948.04(5) allows for the denial of a motion to early terminate even where all conditions have been met where a written finding has been made that continued supervision of the Defendant is necessary to protect the public.
Discretionary Early Termination of Probation
Even where individuals serving on probation have not met all of the requirements set forth under Florida Statute 948.04(4), they may still convince the court to terminate their supervision early and obtain an order releasing them from probation. Likewise, although Defendants placed on probation before October 1, 2019 are not technically eligible for Mandatory Early Termination of Probation, they are still entitled to petition the court to which the presiding judge may exercise discretion and grant the motion.
Early Termination of Community Control
Many individuals sentenced to Community Control have a a probation period tacked on to it. In these circumstances, the Defendant will want to consider filing a motion to terminate the House Arrest portion of there sentence its halfway point. This will allow for them to begin serving their probationary portion sooner. They may then re-petition the court to early terminate the additional probation of their sentence at its halfway point.
Automatic Termination of Probation
When resolving a case by way of a plea it is a good idea to negotiate for an Automatic Termination where appropriate. Cases involving the need for the Defendant to pay restitution to the victim are prime candidates for this being included in the case disposition. Situations involving Defendants in need of Drug and Alcohol treatment may also provide for Automatic Termination upon completion of required counseling. These cases will not require any form of motion or court hearing as supervision ends upon a specific condition being met.