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What’s the Difference Between Probation and Parole?


When you’re accused of a crime, avoiding jail time is key to protecting your job, keeping your family stable, and avoiding some of the harsh penalties you may have faced otherwise. But you need to know what to ask for before you can resolve your case. So what’s the difference between probation and parole? 

The names may sound familiar, and both may be terms you’ve heard people use interchangeably, but these programs serve different purposes (and parole doesn’t really exist in Florida anymore). Speaking with your criminal defense lawyer at Hersem Law before your trial can help you seek the right options after you’re accused of a crime. 

What Is Probation? What Is Parole?

If you’ve been accused of a crime, you may be interested in pursuing probation. Probation is an opportunity to avoid time behind bars, spending your time instead outside the prison or jail. 

In some states, parole is offered to those who have served part of their sentence in jail or prison and who now have an opportunity for an early release. But in Florida, parole was abolished for most offenders in 1983. Those whose alleged crimes occurred before 1983 may still have limited parole options, but if you’re considering your options today for a recent criminal charge, parole isn’t among them.

If you seek probation, it doesn’t mean you won’t face any penalties. Because of this, you may want to speak with your lawyer at Hersem Law about your defense and about the possibility of reducing your sentence or getting the charges dismissed altogether. 

Your Rights During Probation

Before you seek probation, you may need to consider the penalties you may face while you’re on probation. This program is a replacement for jail or prison time, which means you won’t be free to do anything you want. You will instead have to meet certain conditions to stay on probation

The details of your Florida probation may be more general, while some may depend on the details of your particular charge. For example, you may have been convicted of driving under the influence, or a DUI. In those cases, part of your probation agreement may be that you can’t go to bars or other businesses that serve alcohol. You may also be expected to participate in community service, DUI school, or sobriety programs. 

If you violate the terms of your probation, you may face some harsh penalties, too. If you are facing a violation of probation (often referred to as a “VOP”), you can still be sentenced up to the maximum penalties for the original charge. Even failing to show up to a meeting with your probation officer could result in a “technical VOP” and threaten your agreement.

If they believe you broke your probation agreement, you may need to speak with a lawyer about your options. 

You may have a chance to defend your case or reinstate or modify the conditions of probation to avoid going to jail. If you don’t succeed, your probation agreement may be terminated or revoked, and you’ll have to face the rest of your sentence in custody. 

Protect Your Freedom with a Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Facing criminal charges? You may be worried about your freedom and your future after your arrest. You may not have the answers you need about your options, either, such as whether to seek probation.

Your lawyer at Hersem Law can help you untangle these definitions and get answers. When you start with a free strategy session, we can discuss why you may be eligible for probation and what your lawyer can do to fight your criminal charges. Reach out by calling 813-251-7291 or by completing the online contact form below.