“It is a common misconception that the longer a probation sentence is, the more improvement we are likely to see from the probationer. Based on my own experience, it is usually the exact opposite.”
One can usually determine very early in the probation process if a person is likely to be successful. In most cases, either the probationer is 100% compliant from the beginning or the person is usually failing to comply with the terms and conditions within a short time. A new law which seeks to address these issues went into effect this year. The new law should benefit many people facing their first felony conviction. The law allows for early termination of probation for persons who show early success. The law makes perfect sense as most people who are successful in their first 2 years of probation are usually placed on non-supervised probation anyway.
The new law now provides many successful probationers an opportunity to have their probation terminated early. Specifically, the law addresses those people that:
- Are being sentenced on a felony case;
- Have no prior felony convictions; and
- Are being sentenced to a completely probation sentence (no confinement)
For these persons, the law mandates that the court include in the sentencing order a “behavioral incentive date.” The behavioral incentive date has to be within 3 years of the date of sentencing. The law allows for probationers who have not re-offended and who have complied with all terms of probation to have their probation terminated. This termination is to occur within 60 days of the behavioral incentive date listed on the sentencing order. The total length of probation originally imposed does not matter. Additionally, The Department of Community Supervision (probation office) has no discretion in the matter. So long as the probationer meets the requirements, the law mandates the agency to terminate the person’s probation.
In the past I have heard prosecutors agree to recommend probation on certain cases so long as the probation is really lengthy. I have often heard comments from prosecutors to the effect of, “No worries, he/she is going to mess up again anyway,” and “20 years is a lot of rope to hang someone with when I see them at their revocation hearing.” Well, thanks to criminal justice reform in Georgia, many probationers who are successful are now being given the opportunity to succeed—an opportunity to drastically reduce the length of their probated sentences which at times can be excessively long.
If you are currently serving a lengthy probation sentence and have demonstrated success by fully complying with the terms and conditions of probation, contact an experienced criminal lawyer about the possible options available to you for having your probation terminated. A criminal lawyer, specifically one with experience in the process of sentence modifications and modifications of probation, will assist you in determining if you are eligible for early termination or probation or any modifications to your sentence. For those persons who are eligible for some type of relief, an experienced criminal lawyer will expertly guide you through the legal process and fight for your right to get on with your life without probation supervision continuing to hang over your head.