Fundamentals of Early Termination of Probation in New Jersey
Getting Your Probation Terminated Early can be Beneficial for Numerous Reasons in NJ, and an Experienced Attorney can Ensure that You are Eligible and Make a Persuasive Case.
No doubt, being on probation is better than being in jail. A judge may sentence you to probation instead of jail or in addition to it. However, probation is a different kind of jail sentence. Depending on the probation terms and conditions, you could spend years regularly meeting with a probation officer, staying within a specific range of your residence, attending school, remaining employed, refraining from drugs and alcohol, and making sure you do not break any laws, even ones that would not get anyone else thrown into jail, but would for you. Serving a probationary sentence certainly is demanding on your time, your finances, and nerve-wracking from an emotional and psychological perspective.
In essence, there are a multitude of reasons why ending your probation ahead of the initially ordered time is positive and life-changing. When you are looking to terminate probation preemptively, the process is by no means simple and the factors considered are essential to understand and highlight in your petition. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney comes in. Our firm has been handling early termination of probation cases in counties across the state of New Jersey for years, including in Bergen County, Essex County, Middlesex County, Passaic County, Morris County, and Hudson County. Reach out to us to talk through the details of your situation at (201)-556-1570 and get a better understanding of the process to end probation early below.
Motivations for Terminating Probation Early in New Jersey
On probation, you are always at risk of incarceration for violating the terms of probation since emergencies happen, you have missteps, and probation can be unforgiving. For example, you may break a curfew because your car breaks down after work. One time may not be a big deal, but when your car breaks down often, you could violate probation, which a court can revoke. You may be motivated to terminate probation early to avoid circumstances that may increase your risk for harsher punishment. Early termination has various benefits besides preventing violations.
For one, you benefit from early termination of probation by avoiding the risk of a probation violation and new crimes added to your sentence. Some probation terms are stringent. If arriving late for your probation officer meeting is a violation that could land you in jail, the longer you are on probation, the greater the odds that you may arrive late once in two, three, or five years. Some terms specifically address the type of violation that led to probation, so you might need to attend drug or alcohol meetings and stay away from friends who drink and take drugs. You may have to live in sober living housing.
The sooner you are off probation, the sooner you can resume your everyday life, stay out if you want, raise a toast on your nephew’s birthday, meet your friends for a sporting event, or arrive late for an appointment. You can leave the state, change jobs, or quit school if it’s the right thing for you to do. You may be eligible for specific jobs closed to you because of probation, so you have choices once you end it. You can also expunge your record sooner. The mandatory waiting period to clear your history begins ticking from when you complete your sentence. So, early probation termination clearly benefits those seeking to start fresh.
How do You Get Off Probation Early in NJ?
When you are seeking early termination of probation in New Jersey, the process is not automatic. Getting off probation requires you to complete at least half of your probation term in compliance with all conditions and sentence terms. However, you may only be eligible once your probation period is almost over, say, a year or less left. Some probation terms include restitution to victims, fines, classes, community service or counseling sessions. When the court orders a specific number of days of community service, counseling sessions, or classes, you must fulfill all days and pay all fines, fees, and restitution.
After completing all probation terms and conditions, you can apply for early probation termination by petitioning the court in the county where your sentencing took place. The petition educates the court on your situation and how you completed all probation terms but the entire probation period. Your probation officer’s approval and support are crucial, and they may even initiate the termination proceedings by recommending early termination.
What Happens at an Early Termination of Probation Hearing in NJ
Following a thorough review of your petition, the court sets a hearing to hear arguments on the matter. Here, you want to bring your attorney to help persuade the judge to grant your petition. You cannot have a court-appointed attorney, but you can hire one to represent you at the hearing. An experienced criminal defense attorney targets the key points that a judge considers in approving probation termination petitions.
For example, the judge reviews the underlying criminal offense, your criminal history, and your overall record of paying required fines, attending probation meetings, and complying with all conditions. They consider your age, actions, behavior, probation officer’s impressions, and reason for the petition. However, when you have not fulfilled all conditions, the judge has the discretion to give you time to complete specific requirements and postpone the termination date until after completion. They will also keep particular terms in place, such as a no-contact order for a sex crime.
If a Judge Grants a Petition to Terminate Probation Early, Then What?
Should the judge grant your petition, probation ends immediately or on a specific date earlier than the sentenced end date to allow you time to satisfy incomplete terms. N.J.S.A. 2C:45-2, the governing statute for probation suspension or modification, states that a court may sentence a defendant to one to five years of probation and modify or terminate the probation on its own or when either the defendant or probation officer applies. The statute also provides that the probationer satisfies their sentence by either fulfilling the entire term of probation or successfully obtaining an early termination.
In the inverse, failing to pay fines and complete court-ordered terms are reasons to deny the petition. And when a judge believes that the interests of public safety dictate that you do not terminate probation early, they will deny your petition. Thus, criminal history of various offenses, poor attitude or habitual tardiness, probation officer’s lack of affirmation, and outstanding fines are enough for a judge to deny your petition. That’s why getting the right help for your petition is essential.
Let our Attorneys Assist with Terminating Your Probation Early in New Jersey
When a criminal defense attorney such as ours at The Tormey Law Firm is on board to help you succeed, we will work with you to provide vital evidence to demonstrate your good candidacy to the court, like receipts for fine payments and recommendation letters from your employer, landlord, and probation officer. Also, our lawyers will prepare an organized memorandum highlighting all you have done diligently to fulfill your probation conditions. In other words, we will use all of our knowledge, experience, and skill handling criminal matters such as early termination of probation to assemble and prepare a compelling picture of your reasons and early release eligibility, so a judge is more likely to grant your petition.
You may apply yourself, but you are better off with the seasoned counsel of a criminal defense lawyer for better chances of getting an early probation release. If you are seeking to terminate your probation before the full probationary period has been served, contact our criminal defense firm to discuss whether you are eligible and what we can do to paint you in the best possible light before the judge reviewing your request. We assist clients statewide in counties such as Union County, Ocean County, Sussex County, Warren County, Hunterdon County, and Somerset County. Call us 24/7 at (201)-556-1570 or request a free consultation online today.