Although Penal Code section 1203.097 mandates imposition of a three-year probation term for a defendant convicted of a domestic violence offense, a trial court still has discretion to terminate probation before the term has expired. Defendant pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. Pursuant to the plea agreement she was placed on formal probation for three years, with domestic violence terms pursuant to section 1203.097. Fifteen months later, after completing the required classes and conditions, defendant petitioned to terminate probation and reduce her offense to a misdemeanor. The trial court reduced the offense to a misdemeanor, but denied termination of probation, stating it was not permitted because the minimum length of probation is three years under section 1203.097. Defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred in determining it did not have the jurisdiction to terminate probation early. Held: Reversed. Generally, a trial court has the authority and discretion to terminate probation early. (Pen. Code, § 1203.3, subd. (a).) Section 1203.097, however, requires imposition of three years of probation for defendants convicted of a domestic violence offense. After analyzing these statutes and applying rules of statutory construction, the Court of Appeal concluded that section 1203.097 does not circumscribe a trial court’s authority to later modify or terminate domestic violence probation under 1203.3, subdivision (a). Section 1203.097 addresses the initial imposition of probation, and nowhere addresses subsequent authority to modify or terminate probation.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/E068225M.PDF