When a person is charged with a crime in Florida and either pleads guilty or no contest or has a trial and is found guilty, he/she may get sentenced to a term of probation. When a person is on probation, he/she usually has to complete certain conditions of probation. Examples include: a domestic violence course, a DUI class, paying restitution, community service and a variety of other obligations. If the defendant fails to complete the terms of his/her probation within the allotted time frame, he/she risks getting probation violated and being sentenced to jail or prison time as a result.
In some cases, the criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the state for early termination of probation as part of the sentence. This can be a significant benefit. As long as person is on probation, he/she is at risk of being violated for any number of reasons which can result in severe punishments. A defendant does not have a right to a jury trial on a violation of probation charge and is often at the mercy of the judge. Therefore, the best strategy for a defendant on probation is to finish all of the requirements of probation and then get off probation as soon as possible.
Even if the state does not negotiate early termination as part of probation during plea negotiations, sometimes the state will not object and the criminal defense lawyer can ask the judge to make early termination of probation part of the sentence. If it does not come up at sentencing, the defendant can ask his/her criminal defense attorney at a later date to file a motion to end probation early once the defendant has completed all of the terms of probation.
There is one exception to that last point. In some cases, the state and the criminal defense lawyer specifically negotiate that there will be no early termination of probation as part of the sentence. In this case, the defendant cannot have his/her criminal defense lawyer file a motion to have the judge terminate probation early. Even if the judge agrees, which is unlikely once the terms of the negotiations are disclosed, there was a recent case where an appellate court reversed an early termination ruling because it was prohibited as part of the initial sentence.