1. Earned Compliance Credits (ECCs) Can Reduce the Total Amount of Time You Will Spend on Probation.
Earned Compliance Credits (ECCs) were created by RSMo. §217.703 in 2012 to reduce the total amount of time certain people spend on felony probation in Missouri. Each month you are “in compliance” with the terms of your probation, an additional month is cut off the back end of your probation. If you remain compliant on probation, you will be discharged from probation early as a result.
Here’s how it works. If you plead guilty to a charge and receive 5 years of probation and are eligible for ECCs, you can do as little as 2 ½ years on probation. As you continue to be successful with your probation each month, another month will be removed from the back end. Ideally, those two trains will meet in the middle at 2 ½ years and you’ll be discharged.
The one caveat to this general rule is that you must do no less than two years on your felony probation. This means even if your lawyer can negotiate a three-year term of probation, you will still be required to do a minimum of two years, even when the math would otherwise work out to be less.
2. Not Everyone Is Eligible for ECCs.
Great. Probation doesn’t sound like it’ll be so long after all. However, before you commit to a plea or term of probation, you must first make sure that your case qualifies for ECCs. You are only eligible for ECCs if one of the following is true:
- Your offense was a drug offense listed in Chapter 579 RSMo or previously listed in Chapter 195 RSMo.
- Your offense is a D or E felony if sentenced after January 1, 2017, or was previously an eligible offense if sentenced prior to 2017.
- Your offense was NOT one of the listed offenses that are specifically excluded from getting ECCs. Those offenses include Abuse of a Child, Assault 2nd, Child Molestation, Deviate Sexual Assault, Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree, Incest, Invasion of Privacy, Rape in the Second Degree, Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, Sodomy, Statutory Rape, Statutory Sodomy, and Stalking.
Essentially, if your offense is a class A, B, or C felony, or any of the charges specifically referenced in that third bullet point above, you won’t be eligible for ECCs.
3. Even when Eligible, ECCs Can Be Suspended (by the Judge) or Waived (by You).
There are also times when you might be legally entitled to ECCs, but the Judge suspends them, or you are required to waive them.
Why would anyone waive their ECCs and place themselves on probation even longer than they otherwise need to be? During the plea-bargaining process between your attorney and the prosecutor, ECCs can be negotiated just like anything else. Prosecutors might require you to waive your ECCs as a prerequisite to another part of the plea offer, they are extending. There are also instances when the special conditions of probation cannot be completed during your probation when that time frame is cut in half by ECCs.
This commonly happens as part of a plea to Domestic Assault in the Third Degree. Assume you ae placed on probation for five years with ECCs cutting that down to a minimum of 2 ½ years of probation. Often, you might not be able to complete the domestic violence program required of you within those 2 ½ years. In this scenario, the prosecutor would insist you waive your ECCs as part of their plea deal so that you would have the full five years to complete your required counseling courses.
In other scenarios, the Judge might unilaterally suspend your ECCs even when you are eligible. The judge can only do this for certain types of offenses such as assault 3rd, domestic assault 2nd, endangering the welfare of a child, any felony weapon offense, or manslaughter or statutory rape or sodomy. In practice, this rarely happens unless the facts of your case are particularly troublesome or the Judge on your case is a particularly harsh sentencer.
4. You Must Know Your Optimal Discharge and Earned Discharge Dates to Make Sure You Don’t Spend Any More Time on Probation than Necessary.
Your “optimal discharge date” is the earliest date at which you can be discharged from probation assuming you remain fully compliant while on probation. If you are given a five-year term of probation, your optimal discharge date will be exactly 2 ½ years later (30 months). However, if you are later deemed to not be compliant during any portion of your probation term, you will not get ECC for those months you weren’t compliant, and your optimal discharge date will be pushed back that same number of months. Using the example from above again, if you are deemed to be non-compliant on probation in months 10, 11 and 12 of your probationary term, you will not get ECCs for those months. By not getting ECCs for those months, your optimal discharge date will be pushed back to 33 months instead of the original 30 months.
Your “earned discharge date” is the date you will be discharged from probation assuming you remain complaint for the remainder of your probationary term. This date estimates the latest date at which you would be discharged from probation by considering all the ECCs you have earned already.
Continuing with the probation example from above, your earned compliance date would be five-years (60 months) minus the ECCs you earned by being compliant on probation in months one through nine. In this case, your earned discharge date would be 51 months out from the date you are sentenced.
Your earned discharge date and your optimal discharge date should ultimately meet somewhere in the middle as you go along on your felony probation. In this same example, assuming you have no further issues on probation, you would be discharged from probation 33 months after sentencing.
While your probation officer (and their supervisor) will keep track of these dates, it is important for you to know them as well so that there is no confusion as to when you are off probation. This is important in case you pick up a probation violation or new charge towards the end of your probation. If that new charge or violation happens after the date you should have been optimally discharged, you should not be called back into court and violated on that old probation.
Another, less legal reason to know your optimal discharge dates is because it gives you something to look forward to. Watching that discharge date approach faster and faster can serve as great motivation to complete all your conditions of probation and avoid any further probation violations. The discharge date is the light at the end of your tunnel that is probation. It is the date that restores your freedoms. Avoiding probation violations altogether is the easiest and best way to win your probation violation.
If you are on probation or are considering a plea bargain that includes a term of felony probation, you must educate yourself about ECCs. Knowing whether you qualify, and your discharge dates will motivate you to complete probation successfully and as quickly as possible. If you have any questions about ECCs or felony probation, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for a free consultation. We’re here to help.