Early Termination of Probation in Florida
After being placed on probation, you can apply for early termination of probation after you have completed all of the special conditions.
If the motion for early termination is granted by the court, then the order releases you from all supervision and liability for the underlying charge or charges.
Pursuant to Section 948.05, F.S., the court is permitted to discharge an offender from supervision at any time if the court is satisfied that doing so is in the best interests of justice and the welfare of society.
The Florida legislature recently created rules for mandatory early termination or conversion to administrative probation under s. 948.04, F.S.
Under Section 948.04(4), for anyone sentenced to probation on or after October 1, 2019, the court, upon motion by the probationer or the probation officer, must either early terminate the probationer’s supervision or convert the supervisory term to administrative probation if all of the following requirements are met:
- The probationer does not qualify as a violent felony offender of special concern under s. 948.06(8)(b);
- The probationer was not sentenced to community control;
- The parties did not specifically exclude the possibility of early termination or conversion to administrative probation as part of a negotiated sentence;
- 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 probationer has successfully completed all other conditions of probation; and
- The probationer has completed at least half of the term of probation to which he or she was sentenced.
The only exception to that requirement is found in Section 948.04(5). Under subsection 5, the court may decline to early terminate the probationary term or convert the term to administrative probation for a probationer who is otherwise eligible under subsection (4), if it makes written findings that continued reporting probation is necessary to protect the community or the interests of justice.
Attorneys for Motions for Early Termination in Tampa, FL
Call an attorney with Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, to discuss your case and the best strategy to get the probation or community control terminated early.
Although the motion for early termination can be filed at any time, the court is most likely to terminate probation or community control when:
- all special conditions are complete; and/or
- you have completed at least one-half of the term of probation originally imposed.
We represent clients on petitioners for early termination in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, or Manatee County, FL. We can speak with you on the phone or in the office to discuss filing a motion to terminate your probation early.
You can file the motion for early termination without the assistance of an attorney, although having an attorney handle all of the details of your case may result in a hearing being scheduled sooner. Additionally, you may not want to face the Judge alone without having an experienced attorney advocating for you.
Your attorney can talk with the court about all of the favorable facts that would justify the early termination of probation. An attorney can also get written documentation from your probation officer (or even subpoena the probation officer if necessary) so that there is no question that you are in full compliance.
Finally, your attorney can present evidence or the testimony of witnesses that may support your position.
Having an attorney present that information may greatly increase your chances of the court granting your motion for early termination for any case through the greater Tampa Bay area, including cases in Hillsborough County, Florida.
What are the special conditions of probation?
The special conditions of your probation were announced by the judge at the time you were sentenced. The terms are also written in the Order of Probation. Typical special conditions include:
- the payment of fines and court costs;
- the payment of restitution;
- successful completion of counseling or classes; and
- completion of community service hours.
Am I eligible to have my probation terminated early?
Anyone can petition for a modification of probation or to terminate the probation early. For the best chance of early termination, however, you should normally wait until after you have all special conditions of your probation completed.
Some judges routinely grant the motion if the prosecutor does not object. Other courts have an unwritten rule that the typical probationer should wait until the halfway point to ask for early termination.
In Enea V. State, 171 So.3d 219 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015), the court found that the judge “maintains its discretion to terminate probation where the defendant is sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement.” The judge generally has wide discretion to grant or deny the motion, unless Section 948.04(4) applies.
In fact, the denial of the motion for probation early termination cannot generally be taken up on appeal to a higher court. Ziegler v. State, 380 So.2d 564 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980). Instead, the court’s ability to exercise its discretion is described as “a matter of grace.” Id.
Likewise, if the motion to terminate probation is granted, the prosecutor for the State of Florida cannot appeal that ruling. Lafave v. State, 149 So.3d 622 (Fla. 2014) (the Florida Supreme Court found that if the State did not have the right to petition the district court for certiorari review in this case).
What if I want to modify a special condition of probation?
In certain cases, even if you are not at the halfway point of your term of probation, you can still request a modification of probation.
You may want to modify your probation to eliminate a “no contact” provision, eliminate a “curfew” provision, or eliminate a provision that prevents you from leaving the county or state.
The terms of probation can be modified by the court in certain cases to address medical issues, allow you to attend an out-of-state funeral, visit a sick relative, travel for business purposes, or for any other good reason.
You should contact an attorney experienced in filing and litigating motions to modify the terms of your probation.
Can I save money on “cost of supervision” fees if I terminate my probation early?
Yes. Once your probation is terminated, no additional monthly “cost of supervision” fees would be required. Even more importantly, once your probation is terminated, you can not be subject to an allegation that you violated probation.
If you have served at least one-half of the term for house arrest or community control, the court may be willing to roll the rest of the time onto the remainder of your probation or just terminate the supervision entirely.
What if the judge said “no early termination” when I entered the plea?
In certain cases, at the time the plea is entered, the Court will state on the record that “there will be no early termination of probation.” The Court usually adds this “no early termination of probation” provision because the prosecutor and defense agreed to make it a condition of the plea deal.
However, Florida law allows you to petition for early termination regardless of whether this provision was announced by the court. Under Section 948.05, the person under probation can be brought before the court to be “discharged from further supervision” when justice requires the early termination of probation.
The appellate courts have even declared that the “no early termination of probation” pronouncement made at the time of sentencing does not change the requirement under Florida Law that the court must decide the petition based on the facts and circumstances of the case, and requirements of justice. See Arriaga v. State, 666 So.2d 949 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996).
More recently, the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court may not impose a condition of probation indicating “no early termination of probation.” Murphy v. State, 976 So.2d 1242 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008).
If the court in your case made such an announcement, it is particularly important to discuss your case with an attorney, so that your petition will have the greatest chance for success.
The “no early termination” provision does not disqualify you from early termination, but it will certainly cause the Court to look at your case more carefully.
Additionally, such a provision (although invalid) may “remind” the prosecutor to object to your particular motion for early termination. It may even motivate the prosecutor to be prepared with an objection. Having an attorney advocate all of the favorable factors in your case may make all the difference.
Do I need an attorney to file the petition for early termination?
Although you can file the petition without an attorney, many people may be better off having an attorney file the petition. The attorney can often file the petition quicker, and schedule the hearing without any additional delay.
The attorney can contact your probation officer to make sure that the probation officer will provide a favorable recommendation, or discuss with the probation officer ways to address any concerns that might cause an unfavorable recommendation.
The attorney can stand beside you in court and outline for the court all of the reasons why the petition should be granted.
The attorney may be able to minimize the risk that the court will simply say “No” to your request leaving you on probation for the remainder of the term.
Can My Probation Officer Recommend Early Termination?
The Department of Corrections (DOC) may recommend early termination of supervision to the court at any time before the scheduled termination date when a probationer:
- met all financial sanctions imposed by the court;
- has not been found in violation of any terms or conditions of supervision; and
- performed satisfactorily all special conditions of probation.
If your probation officer has not made such a recommendation, you can request the early termination of probation by hiring a criminal defense attorney to file a motion for early termination of probation.
Florida Statute Section 948.04 – Visit the website of the Florida Legislature to find the statutory language in Florida Statute Section 948.04 to learn more about the period of probation, the duty of the probationer, and filing a motion for early termination of probation or community control.
Finding an Attorney for Early Termination of Probation in Florida
One of your most important rights while on probation is the right to petition the court to terminate the probation early. Being on probation is a dangerous place to be because any allegation that you violated probation can result in a no bond warrant for your arrest.
If you are eligible, there is no downside to asking for early termination. We can speak with you on the phone or in the office to discuss your petition to terminate your probation early. Don’t face the judge alone.
Call us to discuss your case with an experienced attorney today.
Call (813) 250-0500.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Thursday, March 24, 2022.