Can you get Probation as an Alternative to Incarceration?

Probation is a period of time that a convicted criminal or a defendant that is charged with a crime has court ordered supervision in lieu of incarceration.  For the duration of the probation, the offender faces the threat of being jailed or having further charges filed if he or she willfully violates the conditions of the court or commits a new crime.  During probation, an offender is expected to maintain law abiding behavior in the community and to uphold all the terms and conditions as determined by the court.

There are several specific types of probation that can be ordered in the State of Florida;

  • Administrative probation is the least restrictive type of court ordered supervision, as the offender is not required to meet regularly with a probation officer. They are permitted to leave their home at will, without monitoring. This type of probation is an option for an offender that presents a low risk of harm to the community and has successfully completed at least half of their probation term.
  • Community control is a restrictive form of probation, where the offender is closely supervised, and has a set schedule for leaving their residence for specific reasons only, such as employment or medical appointments.  An ankle monitor may be used to track his/her whereabouts. This form of probation is utilized for serious offenses such as felonies or repeat offenders.
  • Drug offender probation is used for the probation of drug offenders and is an intensive form of supervision. It is used for felony drug crimes and the offender is subject to random drug testing, curfew restrictions, restrictions on travel, loss of driver’s license, and the offender must have employment or be seeking employment while on probation.
  • Mental health probation is a specialized supervision which focuses on mental health treatment and compliance with psychotropic medications. A community mental health case manager works in conjunction with the probation officer to formulate an appropriate treatment plan. The goal of this type of probation is to improve the quality of life for persons with mental illness by providing an alternative to incarceration while keeping the community safe.
  • Sex offender probation is intensive supervision with an individualized treatment plan and the usage of an electronic tracking device.  Conditions imposed by the court includes a mandatory curfew, successful completion of a sex offender treatment program, a no contact order with the victim, being placed on the sex offender’s registry and submitting a DNA sample to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement.  If the victim was under the age of 18, the offender is prohibited from being within 1000 feet of any place frequented by children.

The Florida Department of Corrections recognizes two categories of probation violations; a technical probation violation is the failure to follow a specific condition of the probation.  This does not include a criminal offense and the penalties can be a verbal reprimand, modifying the probation order or imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the misbehavior.  Examples include missing probation appointments, failure to pay court fees, moving residence without permission, failure to report to community service, or testing positive for drug or alcohol usage. Substantive probation violations occur when an offender commits a new crime while serving a probation sentence.  The offender will face additional penalties if convicted and his probation will likely be revoked.

Probation is a practical alternative to incarceration, with the goal of deterring future criminal behavior by providing offenders with opportunities for rehabilitation. Probation is a cost-effective approach, as it allows the offender to remain in the community to financially support their families. There is evidence that probation reduces recidivism, as opposed to incarceration.  If you are charged with a crime or a probation violation, there can be significant impacts on your future.  Contact Attorney Frank P. Remsen to review the charges and evidence.  He is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that can provide you with quality representation by building a defense and advocating for the best possible outcome.