May 20, 2015
In Florida, there are several alternatives to jail time available. Depending on the type of offense, an offender may be able to avoid incarceration by complying with certain conditions and restrictions.
Probation is court-ordered supervision for a specified period of time, which may not exceed the maximum sentence available for the crime. The court will set certain conditions of probation, which the probationer must obey. If the probationer violates the terms of probation, the consequences can be very serious. The court may revoke the probation and can then impose any new sentence that was available at the time of the original sentencing, including jail time.
The terms of probation often include community service, the payment of restitution to the victim of the crime, the payment of court costs and fines, or rehabilitative treatment, such as for drug abuse or mental health. Probation also usually includes restrictions on where the probationer may travel. Generally, the probationer must report monthly to the supervising officer. Additionally, the officer may visit the probationer at home or at work.
The probationer must pay an application fee for the probation, and thereafter pay the costs of supervision to the state.
Administrative probation is essentially no-contact probation. The probationer still must obey the conditions of probation, but does not have to report to a probation officer. However, the department will still periodically check the record to ensure that the probationer has not violated any laws.
A probationer may be eligible for administrative probation if he or she has successfully completed at least half of the term of probation, and presents a low risk of harm to the community. Administrative probation is not available for offenders who have committed certain offenses relating to children or to the elderly.
There is an initial fee of $50 for administrative probation, but no further payment for supervision.
Community control is supervised house arrest involving surveillance on holidays and weekends. An offender’s freedom is restricted to specified locations, usually to a certain residence during hours when the offender is not at his or her place of employment or at community service. The terms of community control may also include meetings with a probation officer, community service, or other conditions of probation.
Community control may also include electronic monitoring. Private companies monitor offenders 24 hours per day, and report any violations to probation staff.
If an offender violates the terms of community control, the court can revoke the community control and impose any sentence available at the original sentencing.
Pretrial intervention is a program that allows an offender to avoid a conviction. An offender must complete the conditions of pretrial intervention, which may include restitution, counseling, and community service. If the conditions are completed, the state will not prosecute the case, which means that the offender does not have a criminal conviction on his or her record.
Pretrial intervention is available for nonviolent third degree felonies. It requires the approval of the administrator and the consent of the victim, the prosecutor, and the judge.
There are a variety of community corrections programs available in Florida, and a dedicated attorney can help you determine if one of these programs might be available to you. If you have been charged with a crime, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.