The Difference Between Probation and Parole in Florida

The terms “parole” and “probation” often are used interchangeably. But while each describes the legal status of a conditionally released offender, the two terms concern different punishments and processes.

If you are facing either probation or parole in Florida, contact a Sarasota probation violation attorney at the Fowler Law Group for help. We understand the law and can help you minimize the conditions imposed on either legal status.

The Basics of Probation and Parole in Florida


Probation refers to a court’s decision to allow a guilty party to remain in the community. For a certain period of time, commonly one year, they are obliged to live in society by satisfying good behavior rules. In other words, a person who is on probation must act socially acceptable and satisfy the rules of their probation (i.e., refraining from drinking alcohol). 

A probation officer is assigned to make sure the rules are being followed by monitoring the probation behavior. The two will often meet face-to-face once a week or so and be subjected to urine tests. Failure to follow the rules results in the person’s loss of probation and going to jail.


Parole is a mechanism by which a prisoner is released before they have served their full sentence. They are also supervised for a pre-defined period and are required to follow the behavioral rules imposed upon them. If they fail to do so, they also return to jail.

In other words, parole is a type of early release supervision for prisoners who have not served their entire sentence. The term of the parole cannot exceed the time left remaining on the sentence.

Similarities of Probation and Parole

It’s easy to see why probation and parole are often confused. The primary goal in each is to keep offenders out of jail or prison beyond what is necessary, and the conditions that need to be met are similar. Both types of offenders live within society while following a strict set of behavior rules and regulations. Both are supervised by law enforcement officers.

Differences Between Probation and Parole

There are, however, some key differences between the two. The main difference is timing. Probation is granted upon conviction of a crime, often as an alternative to incarceration, where parole is only granted to people who are already incarcerated and seeking a sentence reduction.

The other key difference is the form of supervision you are subject to. If you are on probation, a probation officer supervises you. If you are on parole, it is a parole officer. They each fulfill a similar role, but they have different powers that they can use while carrying out their job.

The rules and conditions that a parolee or probationer follows are also slightly different.

Note that parole has been all but discontinued in Florida.

Contact a Sarasota Probation Violation Attorney for More Information

The rules and conditions of both probation and parole can both be annoying to follow, but it beats time locked up in jail. If you find yourself with an opportunity for either one, you should let us help you with your case. Contact a Sarasota probation violation attorney for your free consultation.

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