Governor Newsom signed into law a substantive change to the terms of probation required in California, under AB 1950.
What is Probation?
When a person is sentenced to a term that does not involve state prison, the court will sentence the person to “probation.” There are 2 types of probation: formal and informal. Formal probation is when a person is required to check in with a probation officer and follow other conditions, such as drug testing or drug counseling. Informal probation means the defendant does not have a probation officer but is still required to follow the terms and conditions issued by the court at sentencing. If a person is found to have violated probation, they can be returned to custody. Prior to AB 1950, a typical term of probation for a misdemeanor charge was three (3) years, and for a felony was five (5) years.
Misdemeanor Convictions may only receive 1 year of probation
With the change in the law, unless specifically stated in the law, the term of probation will only be one (1) year. This is a significant change, as the standard term had been 3 years. This allows people to apply for an expungement or relief under Penal Code section 1203.4 even earlier.
Felony Convictions may only receive 2 years of probation
Felony convictions will now, typically, only carry a term of two (2) years of probation. Again, this is significant. Formal, felony probation can be a difficult burden on people. It often requires frequent appointments with a probation office, as well as the possibility of law enforcement arriving at your place of work, school or home to search your possessions.