Will A New 2021 California Probation Law Shorten Your Probation?

Revised: October 20, 2023

What is AB 1950?

Assembly Bill 1950 (AB 1950) is a sweeping probation law in California that dramatically shortens the period of adult probation for most crimes in California.
AB 1950 limits California adult probation to a maximum of one year for most misdemeanor offenses and two years for most felony offenses.

What are the results of AB 1950 in 2023?

Today, anyone receiving a sentence that includes probation will be on the new, shorter term.

Anyone who had a longer probation term when the law first went into effect has already completed their longer term or has filed for early termination of their probation. Since all longer probation terms are now complete, early terminations and expungements no longer need to be filed.

We are proud to have helped many of our clients to shorten their probation and to expunge their records under AB 1950. This allowed them to move forward with their lives, find employment more easily, and be free from dealing with the administrative tasks associated with probation.

Read on to learn about why AB 1950 was created and how it was able to help people over the past couple of years.

Why was AB 1950 Created?

AB 1950 is designed to reduce the number of inmates incarcerated due to minor probation violations, decrease reoffending rates, and reduce the high costs.
One of the main problems with the previous probation terms was that many people on probation ended up incarcerated due to technicalities or minor violations.
AB 1950 aims to decrease probation caseloads which would allow probation officers to be able to focus their resources on those at risk of re-offending.
Supporters of AB 1950 argued that adult probation is most beneficial in the early part of a probation term because probation services such as mental health care and drug treatment is most effective during the early months of supervision.
Most people convicted of crimes in California, whether misdemeanors or felonies, are placed on probation. Probation is an alternative to jail or prison.
When you agree to probation you also agree to follow the probation rules. Some common probation rules in California are you must obey all laws, check in with probation, submit to alcohol or drug testing, maintain employment, and stay away from certain locations.
Probation is not necessarily a “get out of jail free” card. If you violate a rule of your probation, then you can face jail or prison time. A probation violation can be as minor as not paying a fine, failure to report to your probation officer, or failure to maintain employment. By ending probation, you eliminate the risk of facing a probation violation.

What are the Types of Probation in California?

There are two types of probation in California, informal (A.K.A. summary probation) and formal probation.
California Informal (A.K.A Summary) Probation Informal probation means you are not supervised by the probation department. Instead, it means you are on informal probation with the court. Most people convicted of misdemeanors are placed on informal probation.
California Formal Probation Formal probation means you are under the supervision and direction of the probation department. Most people convicted of felonies are placed on formal probation

How Do I Know if AB 1950 Applies to Me?

AB 1950 may apply to you if you were convicted of or are facing misdemeanor or felony charges.
California Felony Probation AB 1950 reduces the maximum term of probation for most felonies to two years.
California Misdemeanor Probation AB 1950 reduces the maximum term of probation for most misdemeanors to one year.
The Cohen Defense Group provides a free consultation to see if AB 1950 applies to you or someone you know.

Are there exceptions to AB 1950?

Yes. It does not cover some violent felonies including rape, murder, robbery, and kidnapping. This is not a complete list of violent felonies, so consult with an attorney to determine if you were convicted of a violent felony.
Some Felony Financial Crimes Certain felony embezzlement and financial crimes if the amount is greater than $25,000.
Crimes with Mandatory Probation Terms AB 1950 does not apply to any crime that has a probation period within its provisions.
At the Cohen Defense Group, we have compiled a list of offenses that are excluded. To determine if you were convicted of a violent felony or an excludable offense, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney.

What is the AB 1950 California Effective Date?

AB 1950 went into effect January 1, 2021. The new probation law applies to crimes committed in California on or after January 1, 2021. Therefore, if you are currently facing charges, then you may benefit from the new California probation rules.

Is AB 1950 Retroactive?

Yes. The law may apply retroactively to people already on probation and to cases that are pending. It is important to consult with an attorney if you fall into one of the following two categories:
• If you were placed on probation prior to January 1, 2021.
• If your case is open. Judges in Roseville, California have started to reduce probation lengths for people already on probation.
At the Cohen Defense Group, we have been successful in obtaining retroactive relief for clients through AB 1950.

Does AB 1950 Apply to DUIs?

No, since there are specific probation lengths laid out in the California DUI laws, these probation lengths will not be changed at the initial sentencing. However, one can ask to terminate DUI probation early, if all substantive conditions of Probation are complete. The Cohen Defense Group has extensive experience handling DUI cases and can help you bring that motion.

Does AB 1950 Apply to Domestic Violence Cases?

No, if you were sentenced to probation and convicted of a California domestic violence offense, then AB 1950 does not apply. The minimum length of probation for a domestic violence crime is three years. Domestic violence crimes can be broad, and it is important to determine who the victim of the crime was.
If you were convicted of a crime and the victim was one of the following, then AB 1950 does not apply:
• A current or former spouse
• Dating partner
For example, if you were convicted of vandalism, but the victim was your dating partner, then the minimum probation term is 3 years.
The Cohen Defense Group has skilled domestic violence attorneys who can assist you on your case.

What Do I Need to Do to Get My Probation Shortened?

The Cohen Defense Group can file a motion to end or shorten your probation. Bringing a motion is the best way to ensure the benefits are obtained.
If you do not obtain an official order by the court that your probation has ended, law enforcement may believe you are still on probation. Law enforcement may rely on a RAP sheet or data systems that may show someone is on probation when their probationary period should end under AB 1950.
If the judge ends your probation, then the Department of Justice will be notified, and the RAP sheet will show that probation has ended. This will update the data law enforcement relies on, so law enforcement will also know probation has been ended.
Getting off probation can restore valuable constitutional rights and end restrictive probation conditions.
Give us a call today at 530-823-7700 in Auburn or 916-596-2700 in Roseville for a free consultation to see if the new law applies to you or someone you know.

Can I Also Get an Expungement or Reduction in Charges?

Yes, in addition to seeking termination of probation under the new California probation law, we can also bring a motion to expunge the conviction and to reduce eligible felony offenses to misdemeanors.

An expungement allows for your plea to be withdrawn and for the case to be dismissed. If granted, the expungement releases an individual from nearly all penalties and disabilities arising out of the conviction. When this occurs the Department of Justice will be notified, and the individuals RAP Sheet will be updated to show the case was dismissed.
To be eligible for expungement, one must have successfully completed probation or obtained an early termination of probation and not be:
• charged with a criminal offense,
• on probation for a criminal offense, or
• serving a sentence for a criminal offense.
The major benefit of an expungement, with exceptions, is that a person can lawfully answer “no” if asked by a potential employer whether he or she has been convicted of a crime.

What is a Reduction of Charges?

A court may reduce a felony offense to a misdemeanor before or after a person has been convicted, per California Penal Code section 17(b).
Requirements for a 17(b) Reduction:
• The offense must have been a wobbler, meaning the offense could have been originally charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
• The court must have granted probation.

Benefits of a 17(b) Reduction:

• You can say you were not convicted of a felony when applying for a job, housing, or loan.
• You can obtain or maintain professional licenses.
• Restores firearm rights if the misdemeanor does not have an independent firearm restriction.

About Danielle Nygren

Danielle Nygren HeadshotDanielle Nygren handles felony, misdemeanor, and domestic violence cases. Danielle is a passionate advocate for her clients and works diligently to obtain positive outcomes.