What is Probation?

What's the difference between probation and parole? This is a commonly asked question. Probation is contemplated at the time of the sentencing or is worked into any form of plea agreement.  The purpose is in part to rehabilitate the individual.  Keep them on the right track. If a defendant is on probation, they will be assigned a probation officer and have regular meetings. At these meetings, the defendant could be subject to random drug or alcohol testing. Furthermore, the probation officer will inquire and research if the defendant has had any new law violations. If you were to take a plea to a DUI for example, you are going to have mandatory probation. This means you will most likely need to meet with them at least once per month.

When we say it is contemplated at the time of sentencing, this means it's part of the punishment. If you're found guilty at trial, a judge can order you to probation for a certain period of time, this can be an alternative to jail or in addition to jail.

What is Parole? 

Parole unlike probation is not contemplated at the time of sentencing. Parole occurs after you are sentenced and are in prison. Some reasons for parole eligibility are that you could get released on good behavior, the prison is overcrowded, or you just simply qualify for parole. In the state of Florida, someone who has been imprisoned for a criminal conviction must serve at least 85% of his or her sentence before they can qualify for parole. Parole is like probation as you will have a parole officer, but it is not anticipated at the time of plea or sentencing. 

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