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Early Termination from Federal Probation – What Judges Must Consider

Early Release from Federal Probation and Supervised Release

Post #1 of a 3-Part Series

In this first part to our series on early release from federal probation early (or supervised release), we’ll take a close look at the statutory factors that judges must consider when somebody on supervision asks for early termination. The only unbreakable rule here is that one year of supervision must expire before anybody can motion for early termination. The rest is up to the judge.

The next installment deals with the factors by policy that judges do, or may, consider.

Judicial Considerations by Law

Most of the factors judges must use to determine an appropriate sentence 1At least what is legally considered an appropriate sentence are also required to be used when terminating part of that sentence. Since probation and supervised release are part of a total sentence, terminating them early is the same thing as reducing sentences.

The court, in determining whether to include a term of supervised release, and, if a term of supervised release is to be included, in determining the length of the term and the conditions of supervised release, shall consider the factors set forth in section 3553(a)(1), (a)(2)(B), (a)(2)(C), (a)(2)(D), (a)(4), (a)(5), (a)(6), and (a)(7).

18 U.S.C. §3583(a)

So what are these factors? Paraphrased, these are:

  • §§(a)(1): The nature and circumstances of the offense;
  • §§(a)(2)(B): To afford deterrence to criminal conduct;
  • §§(a)(2)(C): To protect the public from future crimes;
  • §§(a)(2)(D): To provide education and job training, provide medical care or other correctional treatment;
  • §§(a)(3)-(4): The kinds of sentences available and ranges from the guidelines;
  • §§(a)(5): In line with relevant policy;
  • §§(a)(6): Avoiding unwarranted differences in sentence between similar defendants with similar conduct;
  • §§(a)(7): To provide restitution to any victims.

Notice that §§(a)(2)(A) is missing from this list? That isn’t by accident. That factor considers the severity of the offense, the need to impose punishment, and to promote respect for the law. These goals are reserved for incarceration sentences only, and are not appropriate for supervised release considerations. [Read the Full Text of these Sentencing Factors]

For a detailed review and discussion of what these factors mean,
download our comprehensive e-book on terminating federal supervised
release and probation here.

Some good news: A 2011 Supreme Court case called Tapia ruled that prison sentences couldn’t be used to promote rehabilitation, because that is what supervised release was reserved for. An amendment was then made to the Sentencing Guidelines Manual where the Sentencing Commission specifically encouraged judges grant early release from federal supervision in appropriate cases.

This is significant because it was the first time in history the Commission encouraged early termination of supervision at all.

What this all means

Not since the 80’s has there been a better time to get released early from federal supervision. Whether on federal probation or federal supervised release, the Sentencing Commission now encourages longer terms of supervision to promote rehabilitation, but also promotes early release after that rehabilitation is done.

Get Started Today

To get started with your early termination documents now, contact us by e-mail or phone to get the process going. Its fast and easy!

Read our free e-book on the A-to-Z of federal probation and supervision!


1 At least what is legally considered an appropriate sentence

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