Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3
A motion to terminate probation under PC 1203.3 can end your probation earlier than scheduled. Once you are off probation, you can then be eligible for an expungement, which can help clear your record, by dismissing your DUI case. As a result, a motion to terminate probation can be a powerful motion that can help you not only get off probation for a DUI, which can clear any problems created by being on probation, like the type that exists with military service or career advancement. And it can also lead to the dismissal of your DUI case.
Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3 – the law
Penal Code section 1203.3 states as follows:
(a) The court shall have authority at any time during the term of probation to revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension of imposition or execution of sentence. The court may at any time when the ends of justice will be subserved thereby, and when the good conduct and reform of the person so held on probation shall warrant it, terminate the period of probation, and discharge the person so held. The court shall also have the authority at any time during the term of mandatory supervision pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (5) of subdivision (h) of Section 1170 to revoke, modify, or change the conditions of the court’s order suspending the execution of the concluding portion of the supervised person’s term.
As you can see, the court reserves the power to change any part of the original sentence, including terminating the sentence term of probation entirely under a Motion to Terminate Probation (PC 1203.3).
This is true even though the court had mandatory minimums that had to have been imposed at the time of sentencing, including the three years informal or summary probation that is mandatory in all DUI sentencing in California. Once the person is actually on probation, and as long as a sufficient time period has passed (the minimum is one year on probation), then the judge has the power to terminate and end probation early.
Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3 – the Procedure
A motion to terminate probation is a criminal motion. As such, it has to be made in writing, it has to be served on the opposing party (by mail or through a process server or third party), filed with the court, and argued at an open hearing. The prosecution, as the opposing party, would have the right to oppose the motion, but the judge has the final say.
In the criminal motion paperwork, the judge is looking for at minimum, three things:
- That at least one year has passed, and that there are no pending or new cases that took place after the case that the person seeks to terminate probation on;
- That the person has completed all the terms of his or her sentence with the court (in other words, paid all fines, attended all schools, and submitted all proof required by the court); and
- That there exists a good reason for the person wanting to be off probation. That is, there must be what the court calls in legalese “good cause”.
Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3 – potential problems
As you can see above, not everyone will qualify. If the requirements above are not satisfied, then the motion cannot be granted. For most, waiting the one year, staying out of trouble, and finishing all the sentence requirements, is clear enough and not a major problem, but showing the court “good cause” — a good enough reason — is more vague and ambiguous.
So what is good cause?
Good cause is slightly different to everyone’s situation, but the court wants to see a “because” of some kind. In other words, the court needs you to state that the motion should be granted “because” of specific reasons.
Good reasons that can become good cause for the judge would be:
- Being on probation prevents you from advancement in the military, or from going into the military;
- The conviction prevents you from getting a specific federal or state license;
- Probation makes you ineligible to serve in charity functions, or serve at your child’s school;
- Probation, or the conviction itself, makes you ineligible for certain specific benefits, like a contract with the government, or security clearance from your job.
Judges hearing these types of motions find a wide variety of reasons expressed by defendants why terminating probation would help the person asking the court for relief. Judges seem to be particularly sympathetic to terminating probation where there is a job or career benefit to doing so. Being able to work or advance in a career is almost, but not always, “good cause” for most judges, but the judge has the final say.
A note about the People v. Segura 2008 California Supreme Court case.
Many judges use the People v. Segura case, a 2008 California Supreme Court case, as justification to deny any requests to change probation.
Under the Segura case, a defendant, who was not a United States Citizen, pled guilty to a felony, and was given probation by the judge, (over the objection of the prosecutor) and a 365-day sentence in county jail, avoiding a longer State Prison sentence.
He was then transferred to the Federal government for deportation proceedings. At that point, he (the defendant) learned that Federal law can deport for any “aggravated felony”, and the definition of the “aggravated felony” is any crime where the sentence imposed is one year or more. His sentence of 365 days constituted one year. Even one day less would have taken away those grounds for deportation.
The defendant, and his attorney, returned to the judge, asking him to change the sentence to 360 days, thus modifying the sentence under Penal Code PC 1203.3.
The California Supreme court recognized that a judge has “authority pursuant to Penal Code 1203.3 to revoke, modify, or change probation, or modify conditions that were not made part of the parties’ plea bargain agreement.” But the CA Supreme court indicated that “a material term of the agreement of the parties, in the Segura case jail time, is not something that can be altered solely on the basis of the trial court’s general statutory authority to modify probation during the probationary period.” (emphasis added).
As a result, for Orange County court cases, because this case is a problem, the brief has to address that the length of probation is not a material term of the agreement. Instead, because the three-year minimum probation is a mandatory sentence for any California DUI cases, and cannot be bargained, and cannot be changed. In a DUI case, that term certainly was not bargained as part of the plea bargain, as it was a given – it could not be changed at the time of the plea.
Note that for wet reckless cases, there is no minimum three-year mandatory probation like there is in a DUI. Courts are more likely to grant a motion to terminate probation early just based upon that fact.
This is something we address in every one of our motions in Orange County courts, and with Orange County judges, because it’s a common misunderstanding with judges that need to be addressed.
Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3 – how to increase your success
In years of practice, I have found that judges want information justifying the reason (the “good cause”) for the motion. What that means is that documents showing how probation or the conviction (until expunged) hurts you, is a must.
- If you are denied a promotion, or a special license, based upon probation or conviction, you should attach documents proving that, as an exhibit.
- If you are denied a security clearance, or entry into the military, or other negative actions against you because of the probation or conviction, you should attach any policies, letters, or other proof of that.
- If you have a job lined up, but that employment is stating that they need you to be off probation, or for your criminal record to be cleared, you definitely should attach proof in writing, to your motion, as an exhibit.
Addressing the court’s concerns regarding the Segura case, above, for Orange County cases, is also a must. Character reference letters can help you, but are not as important as the documents above showing “good cause”, or a good reason, why this motion will help you.
Motion to Terminate Probation PC 1203.3 – how a defense lawyer can help
Our Orange County criminal defense lawyers have years of experience researching, writing, filing, and arguing motions, including motions to terminate probation early under PC 1203.3.
We have a high success rate with these types of motions and are very familiar with the judges that hear these motions, and their concerns. We use that knowledge and experience in how to address those specifics in our motions.