Parole v. Probation in Florida

March 3, 2022 Criminal Defense

Most people know parole and probation from criminal procedural television shows. Often, these terms are used interchangeably, blurring the lines between their important distinctions. In Florida, thousands of returning citizens are either released from prison to serve the rest of their sentence on parole or placed on probation. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Florida, knowing the difference between these two penalties is extremely important.

What Are the Similarities?

Though they are different penalties, they do share some commonalities:

  • Both serve as alternatives to incarceration, like jail or prison
  • Both involve the offender living in the community
  • Both necessitate the offender complying with a list of conditions
  • Both require the offender to meet with an officer to ensure they are following the rules

Probation in Florida

Most criminal cases in Florida result in the offender being sentenced to probation, amongst other things. Probation is a type of community supervision and a post-release sentence that starts once an incarceration sentence is over. Essentially, is it either an alternative to jail or a suspension of a sentence of incarceration. An offender who is sentenced to probation will be able to return to living in their community as long as they report to their probation officer regularly and follow the terms of probation, meaning the rules (both general and specific) that they have to now follow. A common condition of probation is community service. In order to be eligible for probation, the court would need to determine that your sentence no longer or does not require a stay in jail or prison. The court would also need to determine that you are not a danger to your community. If you violate the conditions of your probation, you can be taken immediately back to jail. Some standard conditions of probation include:

  • Reporting to your probation officer
  • Keeping gainful employment
  • Remaining at a specific place
  • Keep from violating laws
  • Making restitution or reparation payments
  • Submission to random alcohol or drug tests
  • Keep away from firearms or weapons

To read more about probation violations in Florida, visit our blog post here.

There are many different types of probation available depending on the nature and severity of the offense convicted. Some common types of probation include:

  • Standard Probation
  • Drug Offender Probation
  • Sex Offender Probation
  • Administrative Probation
  • Community Control (house arrest)

Parole in Florida

According to the Florida Commission on Offender Review (FCOR), the parole overseer in Florida:

Parole is the release of an inmate, prior to the expiration of the inmate’s court-imposed sentence, with a period of supervision to be successfully completed by compliance with the conditions and terms of the release agreement ordered by the Commission.  The decision of the Commission to parole an inmate shall represent an act of grace of the State and should not be considered a right.

The Commission on Offender Review administers parole (see Chapters 947, 948, and 949, Florida Statutes). It allows an inmate who has been granted parole to serve the remainder of his or her prison sentence outside the confines of the institution. Once released, the parolee is subject to strict conditions of supervision, and if those conditions are violated, the Commission may return the parolee to prison.

So, parole is essentially the restricted release of an offender before they have completed their prison sentence. It is not a right, but rather, an “act of grace.” As long as the offender follows the rules, they can serve out the remainder of their sentence in their community.

Unfortunately, Florida does not really grant parole. Generally, only offenders whose crimes date back to the 1980s and 1990s can qualify for parole. This covers less than four thousand inmates out of the over seventy thousand inmates residing in Florida. According to FCOR, this change came about due to the sentencing guidelines enacted in 1983 that effectively abolished parole for offenders sentenced after October 1, 1983. Now, only inmates who committed crimes before that date are eligible for parole consideration. Others considered include:

  1. any inmate who committed a first-degree murder, a felony murder, or the crime of making, possessing, throwing, projecting, placing, or discharging a destructive device (or the attempt of) prior to May 25, 1994;
  2. any inmate who committed all other capital felonies prior to October 1, 1995;
  3. any inmate who committed a continuing criminal enterprise (violation of s. 893.20, F.S.) prior to June 17, 1993;
  4. any inmate who committed a murder of a law enforcement officer (and other specified officers) prior to January 1, 1990;
  5. any inmate who committed a murder of a justice or judge prior to October 1, 1990; and
  6. any inmate who committed a felony prior to October 1, 1983, or those elected to be sentenced “outside the guidelines” for felonies committed prior to July 1, 1984.

The latest rules regarding parole can be found here.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

Florida allows for many types of sentencing, some more lenient than others. To ensure you get the best outcome possible, contact a qualified Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been accused of a crime. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience defending Floridians against criminal charges and will fight zealously for your freedom. Give us a call at (850) 681 – 7777 or send an online message to discuss your legal matter during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

Written by Gabi D’Esposito

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