DUI, Early Termination of Probation, Airport Courthouse
The case arose in the City of Santa Monica in early February 2020, or about nine months earlier, when our client was arrested after police stopped him for speeding in a residential area. At the time, his blood alcohol content was 0.16%, or twice the legal limit.
The terms of the plea bargain were that the client was placed on three years of summary probation on the following terms and conditions: payment of a court fine of $390, plus penalties and assessments; enrollment in and completion of the AB541 program and attendance at the MADD Victim Impact Program.
In April of 2022, the client, calling from Florida (where he worked), contacted our office to ask about early termination of probation and expungement. He had completed all terms and conditions of probation except the passage of 18 more months of summary probation for this DUI.
(It merits mention for the reader than DUI is excluded from the probation-shortening benefits of Assembly Bill 1950, codified at Penal Code § 1203.1(m)(1), as probation for DUI is specifically set at “not less than three nor more than five years” at Vehicle Code § 23600(b)).
Our client had worked as a director of corporate development for a large software company. His duties included recruiting quality acquisition candidates by reaching out to CEO’s and bankers. He also negotiated software prices and managed third party advisors. He had worked for this software company for seven years in Florida. His goal was to continue employment with the company and advance to higher positions of more responsibility and pay.
His employer wanted to transfer him to the Netherlands, which the client was enthusiastic about, but the Netherlands, in considering the required intra-company transfer visa, would not allow the client to transfer there while being on probation. Therefore, the client needed to have his probation ended early.
Greg explained that such a request would most likely be regarded as showing “good cause” and granted by a judge, as California Penal Code § 1203.3, subdivision (a) provides that “[t]he court shall have authority at any time during the term of probation to revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension of imposition or execution of sentence.” See e.g., People v. Allen (1975) 46 Cal.App.3d 583, 588.
Greg explained that this authority was very broad. For example, in People v. Reyna Killion (4th App. Dist., 2018) 24 Cal.App.5th 927, the Fourth Appellate District held that a judge may terminate summary probation in a felony domestic violence case after just one year of probation. Penal Code § 1203.3(a) applies to allow termination of probation “at any time” upon the showing of good cause.
However, Greg said that unless the client had documentation that the Netherlands refused to grant such an intra-company transfer visa if our client were on probation, the motion may be denied, as such documentation would seem to be easy to present to the judge if true.
The client then spoke with the immigration attorney who our client had learned this from and he wrote a letter to the judge explaining how the Netherlands would most likely deny the intra-company transfer visa for our client if he applied for this while on probation.
The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates and our office then prepared a motion for early termination of probation, including a short memorandum of points and authorities, as well as a declaration from our client attaching the immigration attorney’s letter.
The Airport Courthouse then set a hearing date for the motion and Greg appeared at the court on the hearing date. The judge assigned to the motion took the motion more seriously than Greg expected and the Los Angeles City Attorney assigned to the case argued that “a deal is a deal – someone can’t come back to court a few years later and ask to change the terms.” The judge did not give too much weight to this standard type of argument opposing the motion, but nonetheless struggled with whether to grant the motion.