Probation and Parole: What’s the Difference?

probation and parole, Probation and Parole: What’s the Difference?

If you are convicted of a crime in the state of Florida, parole and probation are two possibilities for legal penalties you may eventually face. In conversation, people may use these words interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between each of their legal definitions.

So, what is the difference between parole vs. probation? Is one better or worse than the other? What do you have to do to qualify for parole or probation, and how can a lawyer help you while you are participating in either release? It is important to understand the potential consequences of any charges you are facing.

Once you have a basic understanding of these two legal penalties, you will need to follow up with a trusted attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. Until then, read on to learn more about parole vs. probation.

What Is Parole?

To put it simply, parole is an option for prisoners to reduce their overall jail time, once they have already served a significant portion of their sentence. It allows the convicted person to be conditionally released from prison and return to live and work in their community under the supervision of a parole officer.

The former convict must report to their parole officer on a regular basis and follow a set of behavioral restrictions throughout the duration of their release. If they break any of these rules or fail to report to their parole officer on time, they can be sent back to prison to finish the remainder of their original sentence.

What Is Probation?

The main difference between parole vs. probation is who can receive each type of release. While parole is for people who have been convicted of a crime and have already served a portion of their prison sentence, probation is a community supervision option that does not require the convicted person to spend time in jail.

A convicted person who is granted probation will return directly to their community under the probation supervision of their probation officer. They will have to follow similar rules to parole regarding their behavior, as well as attend regular meetings with their probation officer. Any failure to comply can result in further legal consequences. 

A probationary period can take place at some time during an offender’s initial sentence whereas the parole hearing process is far more advanced, allowing the offender to be released early. The sentence could be imposed as an alternative to imprisonment in addition to or in conjunction with a certain amount of prison time. The judge can limit the offender’s activities unless they comply with certain rules. Parole may also be given by a parole board when an inmate has served a certain amount of time. In some cases, probation officials will take into account factors such as the offender’s behavior in prison, potentially giving the offender early release with strict rules.

Who Is Eligible for Parole or Probation?

To be eligible for parole, a convicted person must have already served a significant portion of their original prison sentence. Furthermore, they must have demonstrated good behavior during their time in prison and made an effort to prove to the judge and their correctional officers that they have reformed and can safely return to society.

To be eligible for probation, the judge would determine at the time of sentencing that the convicted person’s crimes do not warrant a prison sentence. The judge must also determine that the person can safely return to their community under the supervision of a probation officer.

At the end of the day, the final decision as to whether or not a person serving a prison sentence can earn parole—or if a newly convicted person can earn probation—is up to the discretion of the judge. It mostly comes down to the judge determining that the person convicted has shown behavioral improvements and does not present a risk to their community.

What Are the Requirements for Parole?

A parolee is required to comply with a set of rules (predetermined by the judge) regarding their behavior, as well as meet regularly with their parole officer during their parole sentence. They must attend every scheduled meeting with their parole officer, and they cannot arrive late. Failure to attend a meeting or arrive on time can lead to legal repercussions.

Furthermore, the individual must not commit any criminal offenses, no matter how small. They will also undergo regular tests for drug and alcohol consumption and complete any outstanding legal obligations, such as paying fines and attending court hearings in a timely manner.

What Are the Requirements for Probation?

In general, the parole vs. probation requirements are quite similar. The main difference is in how their community supervision is administered—while a parolee reports to a parole officer, a probationer reports to a probation officer. While these roles are similar, their legal powers and obligations are not exactly the same.

Probationers are required to attend meetings with their probation officers and follow predetermined behavior rules. They must also attend to legal matters quickly and perform whatever community service tasks are assigned to them by the court. These community service acts can include things like volunteering at a government agency or cleaning up a state park.

Can You Petition to Be Removed From Parole or Probation?

It is possible for a parolee or probationer to petition to be removed from their community supervision program. But, the likelihood of this happening will depend entirely on the circumstances of the case. At the end of the day, the decision lies entirely in the hands of the judge. Consult with a defense attorney to discuss your options for early termination of parole or probation.

How Can a Lawyer Help You When You’re on Parole or Probation?

A parole or probation attorney is a valuable resource for anyone participating in either of these community supervision programs. If you are at any point accused of violating the terms of your parole or probation, your lawyer can help defend your case and keep you from facing further legal repercussions. They can also help you if you decide to petition for early termination of probation.

Parole and Probation Violations in Florida

Those receiving probation must comply by following some rules that the judge may set. Minors should visit a probation officer regularly to have their drug test every week. If the person fails to fulfill the following items the person will be forced into prison for their entire sentence instead. An already-incarcerated person can shorten prison time by arguing that good behavior reduces the time to jail. The following are more consequences of violating parole and probation:

  • Failure to submit to a drug or alcohol screening
  • Failure to pass a drug and alcohol test with a negative result to a
  • Failure to pay restitution as prescribed by the court
  • Failure to report a change of address
  • Failure to meet with your probation officer without a solid excuse or prior notice
  • Being arrested for committing another crime

It is important to understand the difference between parole vs. probation so that if you are convicted of a crime in Florida, you have a clear idea of what potential consequences to expect. However, that knowledge alone is not a substitute for legal assistance from an expert attorney. If you need legal help, contact our team at Mike G Law to discuss your options.

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