Probation in criminal law is an alternative to serving time in jail or prison. It refers to a period of time in which an offender is subject to certain conditions set by the courts, often under the supervision of a probation officer. Probation is also a period of monitoring as a condition upon an offender’s release from prison on parole. In Massachusetts, it is possible to terminate probation early in some circumstances.
Probation comes with certain restrictions and conditions. Common examples are random drug and alcohol testing, orders to stay away from certain people or places, mandatory counseling, and maintaining employment. In many ways, achieving probation is a positive outcome, as it is a better alternative to incarceration. However, probation can be oppressive and make it difficult to live freely.
There could also be other reasons to want to end probation early, such as needing to move to another state in the middle of a probationary period. It may be possible to get out of probation early, before the court-ordered end date, in certain situations. Early release is an opportunity granted to certain offenders who fulfill the requirements, subject to approval by a judge. Massachusetts law does not allow someone convicted of a serious felony or someone with a history of violence to be considered for early probation termination.
In general, there must be a valid reason to seek early release, such as a job opportunity in a different state or a reason why it is in the best interests of the family. The offender must also be in good standing, with a track record of obeying the orders of the probation. If there are any outstanding fees or restitution on the offender’s record, paying these debts can also increase the odds of a judge approving an early release from probation.
In Massachusetts, you can request early termination from probation or parole in two different ways: you may hire a Middlesex County criminal defense attorney to petition the court after completing at least one year of supervision, or make the request through the probation officer after completing half of the term of supervision. If you are a candidate for early release from probation or parole, you or your lawyer will need to file a Motion to Terminate Probation Early through one of these two outlets.
This motion is a legal document officially submitting the request to the courts, stating the reason for the request and providing information that proves that you are a qualified candidate. The courts will review the motion and assess your case based on factors such as early release eligibility, the nature of the original crime, your history of either obeying or violating probationary terms, and whether there is a good reason to request early release. If a judge agrees to the request, probation will be terminated early.
If you or a loved one wishes to terminate probation early in Massachusetts, the best course of action is to hire a criminal defense lawyer to assist you with the legal process. An experienced lawyer will understand the rules surrounding the early termination of probation, as well as what steps to take to increase the odds of a judge approving the motion.
An attorney will have stronger negotiating capabilities when speaking to probation officers, judges and the courts than you do alone. An attorney can also handle complicated legal paperwork, including filling out and submitting the Motion to Terminate Probation Early on your behalf. Although no defense attorney can guarantee the early termination of probation or parole, hiring a lawyer can increase your odds of request approval.
For more information about ending probation early in Massachusetts, contact Spring & Spring for a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.