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What is Felony Probation?

Posted by Larry Avallone | Nov 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

Probation serves as an alternative to a jail or prison sentence. As a form of legal supervision, probation requires individuals to adhere to specific terms. It is best to think of probation as an alternate to a term of incarceration. Violating the terms of probation can result in jail or prison time, fines, and additional penalties. 

There are currently more than 164,000 people in Florida on felony probation. People may be on probation in lieu of serving jail time or as part of a conditional or medical release. Keep reading to learn more about felony probation, including the types of probation and violations of probation. 

Types of Probation

There are multiple forms of probation in the state of Florida. Felony probation is handled by the circuit court, and misdemeanor probation is dealt with by the county court. Felony and misdemeanor probation are similar but differ in jurisdiction. 

Florida courts can sentence a person to several types of probation, and the judge determines which type of probation is best. Standard probation involves the basic standards of felony probation, including regular reports to a probation officer. Administrative probation, also referred to as non-reporting probation, imposes the standards of probation without regular reports to a probation officer. 

The standard conditions of felony probation are:
Report to the probation supervisor as directed by the court
Allow the probation officer to visit the probationer's home, place of employment, or other places
Remain gainfully employed in a suitable job
Stay within a specific area, such as within county or state limits
Commit no new law violations
Make restitution to any parties who were harmed by the crime
Financially support one's dependents
Do not associate with any people who are engaged in criminal activities
Willingly submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing
Do not possess, own, or carry any firearms
Do not use any controlled substances unless they were lawfully prescribed by a doctor 

People involved in drug-related cases may be subject to drug offender probation. This type of probation requires an individual to adhere to a strict substance abuse program and be subject to random drug testing. Sex offender probation also places stricter standards on an individual, including sex offender treatment programs and restrictions on where a person can be or travel.   

Finally, community control refers to house arrest. As the strictest type of probation, people on community control are constantly under supervision and may be required to wear a GPS monitor.

Who gets probation?

While everyone would likely prefer to avoid jail time, probation is not always an option. A court determines whether an individual receives jail time or probation as part of their sentence. Repeat offenders or defendants with serious, violent felonies may not qualify for probation. The Florida punishment code determines who is eligible to receive a probationary sentence.  

Probation is a possibility for both misdemeanor and felony charges. It may be included in the negotiations of a plea deal or as part of the sentencing phase for a trial. The crime and defendant's past criminal history can factor into the decision to impose probation or not.   

What is the difference between probation and parole?

Probation and parole are often confused as the same concept; however, they are very different. While not as strict as jail time or incarceration, probation is still considered a legal punishment for a crime. Parole refers to an individual who has been released from jail or prison early. Paroled individuals may be placed on probation, but it is not always required. Probation is part of an initial sentence, while parole may come later. 

Also, a judge is responsible for issuing the restrictions of an offender's activities during probation. A parole board is responsible for granting parole to an incarcerated individual who has served some jail time. Florida does not have parole. 

What are the limitations of probation?

Probation offers more freedoms than incarceration, but it is not without limitations. Individuals are subject to the terms of probation as dictated by a judge. Terms of probation can include fines, regular reporting to the probation department, and random drug and alcohol screenings. People on probation cannot possess a firearm, and they are required to report all contact with law enforcement. 

The type of probation and the specific limitations set by a judge will determine what a person can or cannot do on probation. Community control, or house arrest, is the strictest type of felony probation. Individuals on house arrest need approval to leave their home. Other types of probation may enable an individual to live a more “normal” life, enjoying freedoms not available to those who are incarcerated. 

Probation Violations

Probation violations are considered serious offenses, and they can carry hefty consequences.

If an individual violates their probation, they can be subject to fines, additional penalties, and even jail time. An arrest warrant may be issues if someone violates their probation. Probation violations can include missing a scheduled meeting with a probation officer, failing a drug or alcohol screening, or breaking any of the terms of probation.  

A person who is accused of a probation violation is entitled to due process and can defend themselves. A probation violation must be proven, and it must be intentional and willful. It is possible that a person may violate probation unknowingly. In these circumstances, an individual's attorney can speak on their behalf and attempt to explain the situation. A probation officer may decide to drop the violation. If a probation violation is committed and pursued, an individual will have to attend a violation of probation hearing before a judge. If the violation is proved the person is subject to be re-sentenced for the crime. 

How can you avoid a violation of probation?

The terms of probation will clearly state what they probationer can and cannot do during their probation period. Individuals on probation must be cautious in their activities and who they associate with. It is best to avoid associating with anyone involved in criminal activities and avoid going to places associated with criminal activities. 

Can you get off probation early?

It may be possible to end a probation period early, depending on an individual's circumstances. A person is eligible to request early termination when he or she has paid all costs and completes half of their sentence. An attorney can file a Motion for Early Termination of Probation if the client is in compliance with their terms of probation. 

If you have questions about probation or anything involving your criminal case, contact us anytime.

About the Author

Larry Avallone

Larry Avallone is a Volusia County Florida based Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. He has been a Deputy Sheriff and a State Prosecutor and he exclusively practices criminal defense law.


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