Differentiating Probation and Parole in Florida
When you are facing criminal charges with harsh punishments, it is important to know exactly what you are up against. Understanding the various legal definitions of certain penalties also matters if you are offered a plea bargain in exchange for pleading guilty. You need to be 100 percent sure of what you may face upon conviction or agree to in a plea deal. Two terms that many people get confused are parole and probation. You may have heard your friends or family use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. While both probation and parole are alternatives to being in jail or prison, they come about in much different ways.
Similarities Between Probation and Parole
It is very easy for people to become confused about the differences between probation and parole because they have so many similarities. In addition to sounding the same, both probation and parole include:
- Avoiding incarceration;
- Living within the community;
- Following specific rules and regulations; and
- Checking in with an enforcement officer on a regular basis.
But just because two people may live similarly while on probation or parole, that does not mean they came to these circumstances the same way. In fact, probation and parole are two distinct procedures within the criminal justice system and arise in separate situations..
A judge can grant you probation, also known as community supervision, as an alternative to all or some of a jail sentence. When you are convicted of a crime, you are sentenced to jail or prison. The judge can probate your sentence to a fewer or equal number of years of probation. For example, a one-year jail sentence can become one year of probation. You do not have to complete any specific amount of time in jail or prison before you are eligible for probation.
Common rules you must follow during community supervision include abstaining from drugs and alcohol, submitting to drug tests, maintaining employment, and checking in with your probation officer. If you violate a term of your probation, your community supervision can be revoked and you can be sent to jail or prison to fulfill the full term of your original punishment.
While a person may serve probation instead of being incarcerated, parole is not entirely an alternative to jail or prison because you must serve time against your sentence. Parole is a post-incarceration release program. You can only be granted parole if you have behaved well during your incarceration and service a specific amount of time. All inmates convicted of a crime that was committed on or after October 1, 1995 must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole consideration.
Also, under current Florida law, not everyone is eligible for parole. In fact, this is a rare option. Only inmates who committed offenses prior to October 1, 1983 are eligible for parole as well as a few other exceptions.
Call Us For Help
If you are currently facing criminal charges or need help defending against an alleged probation or parole violation, call our firm at 407-483-0500 immediately. The experienced Kissimmee criminal lawyers of the Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. can help you understand the penalties you are facing for a particular offense or the penalties you face for violating the terms of your probation or parole.