Probation – What it is and how it Works

In Florida, as elsewhere, probation is often part of a sentence in a criminal legal case. Probation may be ordered on its own or as part of additional punishments. Also, probation may come at the end of a jail term or other sentence. For example, if someone is convicted of burglary he may sentenced to a two years in prison and one year probation to follow. This means that the man will be on probation for a year following his release from prison. Sometimes, the court will order probation instead of a jail term. This is, obviously, a preferred punishment as opposed to prison. Probation comes with its own set of requirements based on the order of the court and your conviction.

Probation Terms

With overflowing jails, probation is often an acceptable alternative for those who have no prior convictions or a criminal record. The type of crime you are guilty of will help to determine whether you’re eligible for probation. An experienced attorney will assist in providing defense in your criminal case. However, sometimes it’s best to opt for a plea deal – often this is in exchange for probation. When you are on probation you will be assigned a probation officer. You’ll be required to check in periodically with the probation officer and you must follow the specific terms of your probation. Some of the probation terms may include:

  • No arrests during probation period
  • Must be employed (or prove that you were searching for a job)
  • No contact with known criminals
  • Weekly or monthly reporting
  • Counseling for substance abuse or mental health
  • Sex offender treatment program attendance
  • Submit to periodic drug testing


Getting Through Probation

The length of probation varies and will depend specifically on the court order. You must participate in the terms of the probation. In general, you should be able to get through your probationary period without much trouble. Sometimes, however, problems occur during the probationary period. For example, if you’re arrested for another offense while on probation there will be serious consequences. In most cases, your probation will be revoked and you’ll need to revisit the original offense sentence. If you violate probation an arrest warrant may be issued and you could be placed under arrest. This could occur for any violation of probation including failure to participate in an assigned program, failing or refusing a drug test, or failure to check in with your probation officer. If you’ve been in violation of your probation you’ll need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Seeking Probation

Sometimes it may be advantageous to seek probation as a punishment. Probation is much preferred because you are allowed to be free from jail and can have a job and carry on a rather normal life. If you have been charged with a serious crime your attorney will work to try to reduce the charges and lower the sentence. If successful, even a guilty verdict may allow you to resolve the situation with penalties that may include fines and probation. No matter what the crime that you have been accused of, you can and should fight for probation whenever applicable. Always discuss your possible options with an experienced lawyer before making a decision as to how to proceed with your case.