New Rules for Probation in 2021

Probation has typically been the least costly of criminal sentencing penalties. According to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California, probation costs the state $4,438 per offender per year and is the most widely instituted sentence in the court system at more than 50 percent.

In contrast, prison costs $59,919 per annum, parole costs $10,182, and jail costs $38,650. These were costs calculated prior to the enactment of Assembly Bill (AB) 1950, which took effect on January 1, 2021.

The annual costs may remain the same or rise with inflation, but the probationary landscape under AB 1950 will forever be changed. While probations prior to the new law averaged from three to five years, now those convicted of misdemeanors will be eligible to receive a maximum of one year on probation, and those convicted of felonies two years, with some exceptions.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in or around Long Beach, California, and want to know your rights to probation under AB 1950, contact the McCready Law Group.  I will vigorously represent you in court and advocate for probation instead of jail or prison time, or argue to get your probation prior to AB 1950 reduced.

My firm also serves clients in Cypress Hill, Lakewood, and Orange County locations like Huntington Beach and Irvine.

Probation in California: Then and Now

Prior to AB 1950, probation periods were lengthy. A misdemeanor could put you on the watch list for three years, a felony for five years. Given the length of those probationary periods, it provided ample opportunity to violate the terms and get you sent off to jail or prison. The possible violations of probation were numerous:

  • Missing an appointment with a probation officer
  • Testing positive for drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to pay fines or restitution
  • Skipping court-appointed counseling or community service
  • Leaving the state without permission
  • Failing to maintain employment or attend school
  • Visiting people or places prohibited by the terms of your probation

While these violations can still void terms of your probation under AB 1950, the shorter time frames mean there are fewer chances to slip up. If you’re on probation for three or five years and you lose your job, you could be put behind bars. How many people with no convictions on their record can face job difficulties every three or five years? You never know. Economies rise and fall.

AB 1950 and What It Means

AB 1950 immediately shortened probation periods for misdemeanors and felonies commencing January 1, 2021, except for crimes that “include specific probation lengths within its provisions.” Also excluded are financial crimes involving more than $25,000 and violent felonies. Other exceptions include DUIs (driving under the influence), child abuse, domestic violence, and residential burglary or robbery.

Outside of those exceptions, probationary periods are now set in stone at one year for misdemeanors and two years for felonies.

There’s also good news for those already serving probationary terms mandated prior to AB 1950. If you are among them, you can request that your term be reviewed and adjusted to the new maximums.

Shorter probationary terms also bode well for expungement of one’s criminal record. Once a probationary period is successfully concluded, whether it’s one or two years, you can apply to have your criminal record expunged. This means that the court will enter a “not guilty” plea in your case, dismiss the case, and set the conviction aside. You can then answer “no” if a prospective employer or other entity asks you if you’ve ever had a criminal conviction.

Getting the Experienced Legal Help You Need

Whether you’re facing a new charge and desire to serve probation rather than jail or prison time, or you’re already on lengthier probation and want to take advantage of AB 1950, I stand ready to help. 

I am a former Los Angeles Police Officer who decided to become a criminal defense attorney and dedicate myself to helping others. I know both sides of the aisle when it comes to the justice system in California. I will do everything to help you exercise your full rights under the law and will argue aggressively for the best possible outcome, whether it be probation or outright dismissal of the charge. There are no guarantees, but I will have your back.

My firm, McCready Law Group, serves clients in and around Long Beach, Lakewood, and Cypress Hill, California, as well as those in nearby Orange County cities like Huntington Beach and Irvine. Call me immediately if you’re facing a criminal charge or seeking to reduce your probationary term under AB 1950.


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