When charged with a criminal offense in Florida, some individuals are put on probation instead of given a lengthy jail sentence. They may not be in confinement, but they are still required to follow strict rules—even when on unsupervised probation.
Unsupervised probation involves a lot of conditions, but it’s preferable to jail time or being constantly monitored by a parole officer. A good criminal defense lawyer can help defend you in court and advocate for you to receive unsupervised probation, which can allow you to continue living your life without major disruptions.
Defining Unsupervised Probation
According to the State of Florida, probation is defined as court-ordered community supervision wherein a probationer is “required to abide by all conditions ordered by the Court.” These conditions may involve paying fines, attending court-ordered classes or counseling sessions, participating in drug testing, and meeting with a probation officer.
Unsupervised probation (also called administrative probation) does not require meetings with a probation officer and is generally less strict than other types of probation. It does not typically involve regular meetings, letting an officer inspect a home or workplace, or checking in for curfew.
You retain more freedoms under unsupervised probation, but you’ll still be required to adhere to strict conditions. Those conditions vary depending on the details of each case, but they typically allow people to return to their regular daily lives after an arrest.
Conditions of Unsupervised Probation
Under unsupervised probation, you may not be subject to the strict surveillance of a probation officer, but you may still be beholden to certain conditions.
For example, someone charged with a drug or alcohol offense (such as driving under the influence) may be restricted from consuming drugs and alcohol and also be subject to drug testing. Some other conditions of unsupervised probation may include:
- Community service requirements (volunteering)
- Drug/alcohol education/counseling
- Paying court fines
- Educational/vocational skills courses
- Therapy or anger management
- Maintaining a clean criminal record going forward
These conditions can be tough, even though they are significantly less severe than the restrictions faced by individuals on supervised probation. At the Mike G. Law Firm, a criminal defense lawyer can help negotiate the conditions of your unsupervised probation with a judge to get you a fair outcome.
Eligibility for Unsupervised Probation
It’s ultimately up to the court to decide who is eligible and for what kind of probation. According to Florida Statute 948.01, judges may grant probation to individuals who are not considered likely to commit future offenses. Individuals are eligible whether they are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Someone found guilty of serious or repeated offenses may not be likely to receive probation, nor are those who have been found guilty of committing serious felonies. Working with a criminal defense lawyer may increase your chances of getting unsupervised probation, regardless of the reason for your arrest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between parole and probation?
Probation is typically established during initial sentencing and ordered by a judge during trial. On the other hand, parole is granted by a parole board to incarcerated individuals after they have already served time in jail.
Put simply, parole is a form of early release from jail; probation is often in place of jail or instead of a full sentence.
How long does unsupervised probation last?
The judge in charge of your case will decide the length of your probationary period. The exact length will vary from case to case.
In Florida, most probationary periods last on average about four years, but some may be as long as 15 years or as little as six months. Your lawyer can help advocate on your behalf when the judge is deciding on a length of time.
What happens if you’re found in violation of probation?
You may be arrested and charged with a Violation of Probation (VOP). A judge may change the conditions of probation, lengthen the probationary period, or even order jail time. The State of Florida has zero tolerance for probation violators, so there is almost a guaranteed chance of facing further penalties.
The consequences of a VOP depend on a variety of factors. Violations are classified as either a technical violation (such as failing to pay a court fine or missing a counseling session) or substantive violation (which involves committing a new offense while on probation). Substantive violations are considered more serious, even if the new offense is only a misdemeanor.
It’s important to contact a lawyer if you’ve been found in violation of your probation rules. A lawyer can help negotiate the terms of your probation with the judge during a VOP hearing or even beforehand.
If you’re charged with a VOP, do you get “credit” for time spent on probation?
It’s a common myth that if you’re charged with a VOP, you may avoid additional jail time by receiving credit for the time you’ve spent on probation.
In reality, courts do not take into account the time you’ve spent on probation when deciding on jail time or other consequences for a VOP. If you’ve spent 36 months on probation, you will not have 36 months subtracted from a future VOP sentence.
How a Lawyer Can Help
On unsupervised probation, people can avoid jail time and retain their freedom. A criminal defense lawyer can help defend you in court and work toward keeping you from behind bars.
If you’re facing criminal charges—even as a first-time offender—you need a skilled defense attorney on your side to help you understand your rights and freedoms guaranteed by law.
The legal team here at Mike G. Law is ready and able to defend people who have been arrested and need help in court, as well as those who have been charged with a Violation of Probation.
We’re here to protect you. Fill out the form below to contact us for help.