California Misdemeanor & Felony Probation Laws
California passed a new law that went into effect on January 1, 2021. The new law reduces the maximum length of probation possible for most misdemeanors to one (1) year. It also reduces the maximum length of probation for many felonies to two (2) years.
If you, or someone you know, was sentenced to anything more than 1 year of misdemeanor probation or more than 2 years of felony probation, you should read this article!
What is Probation in California?
In California and many other states, probation is a system used to punish and maintain varying degrees of control over, persons convicted of crimes.
A person on probation is often under the court’s order to (1) Obey all laws, (2) Appear for court if ordered to do so, and (3) Keep contact information current with the Probation Department.
Courts also impose probation terms and conditions based on the unique and individual circumstances of a given criminal case. For instance, courts may order a person to:
- Stay away from a particular address, person, or people.
- Participate in a program such as; drug rehabilitation, DUI school, domestic violence counseling, or anger management, or others
- Abstain from certain activities such as; visiting certain websites, or going to businesses “where alcohol is the chief item of sale” (i.e. bars and liquor stores).
- Or possessing certain things such as weapons, burglar tools, or marijuana.
- This list is not exhaustive of all conditions that may be ordered.
Furthermore, if a person is alleged to have violated their probation, they are not entitled to a jury trial regarding guilt or innocence (only a court hearing before a judge) and may be punished with up to the maximum punishment for the crime which they are on probation for.
What Is The New California Probation Law?
The new law is AB 1950. It amends California Penal Code sections 1203(a) and 1203.1 to reduce the maximum probation for misdemeanors to 1 year, and the maximum probation for felonies to 2 years.
The First District Court of Appeal, in People v. Quinn (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2021: A156932), has already ruled that people currently on probation exceeding the new limitations are entitled to a reduction of probation retroactively, which should be granted upon a proper petition requesting such.
Historically speaking, when new CA laws have opened opportunities for old CA defendants, the burden has been on those defendants to Petition the Court for relief, mandatory relief. We would suggest not sitting idly and waiting, or assuming, the court will correct such probations on their own.
How Does It Affect Me?
If you were sentenced to more than 1 year of probation for a misdemeanor, or more than 2 years of probation for a felony, and are still on that probation, you (or an attorney on your behalf) may Petition the Court under AB 1950 for a reduction of probation, or even immediate termination of probation if the would-be maximum probation length has already lapsed.
Additionally, if Petitioning the court for such early termination of probation anyway, it could be wise to simultaneously petition for Expungement under P.C. 1203.4, as the termination of probation is often the final requirement for many people to become eligible for Expungement of their conviction.
Who Is Not Eligible?
AB 1950 excludes some crimes from being eligible. The following are not eligible:
Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Mayhem, Rape, Sodomy, Lewd or Lascivious Acts, Robbery, Arson, Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, Carjacking, Extortion, Threatening a Witness or Victim, 1st Degree Burglary, any crimes enumerated under Penal Code 667.5, and DUI.
Special Note Regarding DUI:
If you were arrested for DUI (Vehicle Code 23152) and convicted of DUI (Vehicle Code 23152) you are not eligible for relief under AB 1950.
However, if you were arrested for DUI (Vehicle Code 23152), and convicted of Wet Reckless (Vehicle Code 23103/23103.5) you are eligible for relief under AB 1950.
A probation violation offense is a serious legal problem. These charges can be filed against you through a variety of circumstances; in some cases, they have been filed based on an administrative error and can be quickly handled. This could occur when you have failed to attend a required meeting with a probation officer when ill. In some cases, it is due to having failed to complete a court-ordered treatment program that was a condition of your probation.
In other instances it could be that you have been arrested for another offense, violating the terms of your probation.
When you are on probation, part of your jail sentence was converted to probation. When a judge considers that you have shown contempt of court by failing to adhere to the terms of your probation, they can come down hard. In some cases, they have been known to immediately give the individual the full jail sentence they would have received without probation, which can be years in some cases.
It is critical that you contact a California Criminal Attorney if you are dealing with any probation violation offense, and speed is vital. Actions must be taken at once to fight to resolve the situation prior to being put in jail. If you have already been picked up by police based on the probation violation, you will be facing a hearing about the situation. We need to act quickly to assist you with the hearing and dealing with the court with regard to your legal problem, as the penalties you face could be extremely severe.
Some judges do not take kindly to those who fail to adhere to the terms of their probation and will punish them severely with the maximum possible jail time, including extra time for violating probation. You need our legal team fighting for you, and you need to act quickly.