In the state of Florida, as elsewhere in the USA, each criminal charge attracts a specific range of potential penalties. Understanding what they are for the offense you are being charged with is important.
Probation or parole are amongst the range of penalties that the court and justice system can impose. Many people think that there is little difference between the two. In reality, there are some significant differences. So, it is essential that you fully understand how parole and probation compare.
To make sure you can fully differentiate between the two terms, it’s wise to consult a criminal defense attorney. They will be able to tell you, in detail, what you need to know to make a sound decision about any plea deal you may be offered.
Basics of Probation and Parole in Florida
In the meantime, here is an overview of the main differences.
Probation is when the courts decide to allow someone that is guilty of a crime to remain in the community. For that period, they are obliged to follow good behavior rules. To ensure that they do, they are assigned a probation officer who monitors their behavior. This is also known as community supervision.
Failure to follow the rules results in the person's freedom of movement being curtailed further. Often, that means being locked up.
Parole is when a prisoner is released before they have served their full sentence. They are also supervised for a pre-defined period and are required to follow the good behavior rules laid out for them. If they fail to do so, they return to jail.
Why Probation and Parole Get Mixed Up
From the above, it is easy to see why people mix probation and parole up in their minds. In both cases, the aim is to prevent a person from being in jail any longer than is necessary. Plus, the conditions that need to be met are extremely similar.
Both sets of offenders live within society while following a set of strict rules and regulations. They are both supervised by law enforcement officers.
Differences Between Probation and Parole in Florida
The main difference between the two is the timing. Probation is granted upon conviction of a crime.
When an offender is convicted of a crime, the judge can grant them probation instead of sending them to jail. It is possible to be granted probation even if you haven’t spent any time in prison, on remand.
Whereas, parole is only granted to people who have gone to jail. Only after they have completed a significant portion of their sentence and shown good behavior whilst serving their sentence.
The other difference is the form of supervision you undergo. If you are on probation, it is a probation officer that supervises you. Whereas, with parole, it is a parole officer. They each fulfill a similar role, but they have different powers that they can use while carrying out their job.
The rules and conditions that a parolee or probationer follows are also slightly different. This is what a probationer must do:
- Follow the good behavior rules
- Not commit any criminal offenses, even minor ones
- Meet regularly with their probation officer
- Must show up for a court hearing
- Pay fines or restitution and do so in a timely fashion
- Pass regular drug or alcohol tests
- Follow any changes that the parole board makes
- Complete the terms of any community service sentence they received
For more information about the violation of probation, read our guide, by clicking the link.
Parolees also need to do all of the above. Should they fail to follow even just one of the rules, they will be returned to jail and serve out the rest of their sentence. If any changes are to be made to the terms of their probation it is a judge that decides what those changes will be.
Consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney like Thomas C. Grajek in order to fully grasp the differences between probation and parole.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas C. Grajek Today
If you, or a family member, is, or is likely to become a parolee or probationer soon, please get in touch with us. We will provide you with guidance to greatly improve your chances of successfully navigating either the parole or probation systems. You can:
Give us a call using (863) 688-4606
Use our website’s online contact form
Schedule a free consultation with us today!
PRO TIP :
“Remember that probation is granted during the initial sentencing, while parole is granted only after part of the prison sentence has already been completed.”
FAQs on Probation vs Parole in Florida
Is probation the same as house arrest?
Probation and house arrest are not the same thing. The movements of probationers usually have the freedom to go where they want, when they want, for most of the day. Whereas, those under house arrest are confined to their home for much of the time. They are also far more closely supervised than those on probation.
How often should I meet with my probation officer?
How often you should meet with your probation officer will be explained. It varies from person to person. Regardless of how often that is, you must attend every single scheduled meeting and do so on time. Failure to do this would be a violation of probation, which would have serious consequences for you.
I got a traffic ticket -- does that affect my probation?
Most traffic tickets are civil offenses, so they will not normally affect your probation. However, you are normally obliged to tell your probation officer about them. This is because the failure to report a traffic ticket could be a breach of your probation terms.