In Florida people are sentenced to probation for a variety of offenses. Most probationers try to pay their fines and complete their conditions as quickly as possible so that they can request early termination of probation. Fines may include court costs, investigation fees, restitution, and supervision costs. Probation conditions include general conditions, like – to obey all laws, not re-offend, and no police contact; and special sanctions, like – community service or classes.
It is a myth that early termination of probation cannot be granted unless the possibility is noted in the Order of Probation. According to Florida Statute 948.05 the court is required to consider your petition and grant it when justice requires.
948.04 Period of probation; duty of probationer; early termination.—
(3) If the probationer has performed satisfactorily, has not been found in violation of any terms or conditions of supervision, and has met all financial sanctions imposed by the court, including, but not limited to, fines, court costs, and restitution, the Department of Corrections may recommend early termination of probation to the court at any time before the scheduled termination date.
948.05 Court to admonish or commend probationer or offender in community control.—
A court may at any time cause a probationer or offender in community control to appear before it to be admonished or commended, and, when satisfied that its action will be for the best interests of justice and the welfare of society, it may discharge the probationer or offender in community control from further supervision.
As a practical matter, most judges will not grant early termination of probation until at least half of the probationary period has passed. The court is not required to grant the early termination, it is left completely to the judge's discretion. But, it is the right of the probationer to file a motion to request early termination; and it is the obligation of the court to consider the request. If a probationer has completed all conditions, paid all fines, has not re-offended and half of the probationary period has passed, it is a worthwhile effort to request early termination.
The request is made in the form of a motion. So, it is a “Motion for Early Termination of Probation”. The original motion is filed with the clerk of court; and a copy is sent to the state attorney, and a copy is sent to the offender's probation officer. Each of these people has the opportunity to object to the early termination.
If neither objects to the early termination the judge either rules on the early termination or a court hearing is scheduled. The fact that a judge requires a court hearing, does not necessarily mean that the motion for early termination will be denied. The judge may simply want to speak to the probationer before ending his sentence.
The motion should include facts that might persuade the judge to terminate the probation. For example, at minimum the motion should include:
Expunge & Seal of criminal records are similar processes, but with some very important differences. Expungement (properly called expunction) can wipe out a criminal charge or arrest, but the arrest or charge must NOT have resulted in a conviction. If the charge or arrest resulted in a dismissal or adjudication withheld pending satisfactory completion of probation, an offender may be able to have his criminal records expunged. Certain charges regardless of dismissal or adjudication withheld may not be expunged at all. Most of these are sex offenses. And, a plea of no contest (no lo contendre) is considered a conviction. Once a criminal record has been expunged, the offender can truthfully state that he has not had a criminal charge or conviction.
A criminal record with a conviction can be sealed after a waiting period, usually a minimum of five years, after the offender has completed all supervision. Once a criminal record is sealed, the offender can truthfully state that he does not have a criminal conviction. Government entities including government employers can see past the sealed record, and see that there was a past conviction. Private entities and employers cannot see past the seal.
Since 2011 it has been difficult for offenders to restore their civil rights. Civil rights restoration must be granted through the Governor's Office of Clemency. Unfortunately, Governor Rick Scott historically granted few clemency applications. We believe full restoration of rights will remain difficult during Ron DeSantis' term. However, Amendment IV passed in November's mid-term elections. This Florida Constitutional affects only voting rights, and was designed to be automatic. After completing their sentences, convicted felons will have the right to vote.
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