Florida Pardon and Parole Laws


In Florida, laws relating to pardon and parole can be found in Fla. Stat. § 940.01 and the Objective Parole Guidelines Act of 1978.  Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 940.01, except in cases of treason and in cases when impeachment results in conviction, the Governor may, by executive order filed with the Secretary of State, suspend collection of fines and forfeitures, grant reprieves not exceeding 60 days.  The governor may, with the approval of two members of the Cabinet, grant full or conditional pardons, restore civil rights, commute punishment, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses.  In cases of treason, the Governor may grant reprieves until adjournment of the regular session of the Legislature convening next after the conviction, at which session the Legislature may grant a pardon or further reprieve; otherwise the sentence shall be executed[i].

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.01, a Parole Commission is created.  The members of the Parole Commission are appointed by the Governor and Cabinet from a list of eligible applicants submitted by a parole qualifications committee.  The appointments of members of the commission must be certified to the Senate by the Governor and Cabinet for confirmation, and the membership of the commission must include representation from minority persons[ii].

Powers and Duties of Commission

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.13, the commission has the powers and perform the duties of:

a) Determining what persons shall be placed on parole.
b) Fixing the time and conditions of parole.
c) Determining whether a person has violated parole and taking action with respect to such a violation.
d) Making such investigations as may be necessary.
e) Reporting to the Board of Executive Clemency the circumstances, the criminal records, and the social, physical, mental, and psychiatric conditions and histories of persons under consideration by the board for pardon, commutation of sentence, or remission of fine, penalty, or forfeiture.
f) Establishing the terms and conditions of persons released on conditional release, and determining subsequent ineligibility for conditional release due to a violation of the terms or conditions of conditional release and taking action with respect to such a violation.
g) As the Control Release Authority, determining what persons will be released on control release, establishing the time and conditions of control release, if any, and determining whether a person has violated the conditions of control release and taking action with respect to such a violation.
h) Determining what persons will be released on conditional medical release, establishing the conditions of conditional medical release, and determining whether a person has violated the conditions of conditional medical release and taking action with respect to such a violation.

Eligibility for Parole

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.16, every person who has been convicted of a felony or who has been convicted of one or more misdemeanors and whose sentence or cumulative sentences total 12 months or more, who is confined in execution of the judgment of the court, and whose record during confinement or while under supervision is good, is eligible for interview for parole consideration of her or his cumulative sentence structure as follows:

a) An inmate who has been sentenced for an indeterminate term or a term of 3 years or less shall have an initial interview conducted by a hearing examiner within 8 months after the initial date of confinement in execution of the judgment.
b) An inmate who has been sentenced for a minimum term in excess of 3 years but of less than 6 years shall have an initial interview conducted by a hearing examiner within 14 months after the initial date of confinement in execution of the judgment.
c) An inmate who has been sentenced for a minimum term of 6 or more years but other than for a life term shall have an initial interview conducted by a hearing examiner within 24 months after the initial date of confinement in execution of the judgment.
d) An inmate who has been sentenced for a term of life shall have an initial interview conducted by a hearing examiner within 5 years after the initial date of confinement in execution of the judgment.
e) An inmate who has been convicted and sentenced under ss. 958.011-958.15, or any other inmate who has been determined by the department to be a youthful offender, shall be interviewed by a parole examiner within 8 months after the initial date of confinement in execution of the judgment.

Fla. Stat. § 947.16 provides that an inmate serving a mandatory term of 15 years or more must have an initial interview no sooner than 18 months prior to the expiration of the mandatory minimum portion of the sentence.  If an inmate has received a consecutive sentence or sentences imposed by a court or courts of Florida, the inmate must be eligible for consideration for parole, unless otherwise expressly prohibited by law.

Fla. Stat. § 947.16 provides that a person who has become eligible for an initial parole interview and who may, according to the objective parole guidelines of the commission, be granted parole must be placed on parole in accordance with the provisions of this law; except that, in any case of a person convicted of murder, robbery, burglary of a dwelling or burglary of a structure or conveyance in which a human being is present, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, kidnapping, sexual battery or attempted sexual battery, incest or attempted incest, an unnatural and lascivious act or an attempted unnatural and lascivious act, lewd and lascivious behavior, assault or aggravated assault when a sexual act is completed or attempted, battery or aggravated battery when a sexual act is completed or attempted, arson, or any felony involving the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon or the use of intentional violence, at the time of sentencing the judge may enter an order retaining jurisdiction over the offender for review of a commission release order.  This jurisdiction of the trial court judge is limited to the first one-third of the maximum sentence imposed.  When any person is convicted of two or more felonies and concurrent sentences are imposed, then the jurisdiction of the trial court judge applies to the first one-third of the maximum sentence imposed for the highest felony of which the person was convicted.  When any person is convicted of two or more felonies and consecutive sentences are imposed, then the jurisdiction of the trial court judge applies to one-third of the total consecutive sentences imposed.

Within 90 days after any interview for parole, the inmate must be advised of the presumptive parole release date[iii].

Conditions of Parole

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.18, no person must be placed on parole merely as a reward for good conduct or efficient performance of duties assigned in prison.  No person must be placed on parole until and unless the commission finds that there is reasonable probability that, if the person is placed on parole, s/he will live and conduct himself or herself as a respectable and law-abiding person and that the person’s release will be compatible with his or her own welfare and the welfare of society.  No person must be placed on parole unless and until the commission is satisfied that s/he will be suitably employed in self-sustaining employment or that s/he will not become a public charge.  The commission determines the terms upon which such person must be granted parole.  If the person’s conviction was for a controlled substance violation, one of the conditions must be that the person submit to random substance abuse testing intermittently throughout the term of supervision, upon the direction of the correctional probation officer.  In addition to any other lawful condition of parole, the commission may make the payment of the debt due and owing to the state or the payment of the attorney’s fees and costs due and owing to the state a condition of parole subject to modification based on change of circumstances.  If the person’s conviction was for a crime that was found to have been committed for the purpose of benefiting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal gang, one of the conditions must be that the person be prohibited from knowingly associating with other criminal gang members or associates, except as authorized by law enforcement officials, prosecutorial authorities, or the court, for the purpose of aiding in the investigation of criminal activity[iv].

Terms of Parole

ursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.19, the commission, upon authorizing an effective parole release date, must specify in writing the terms and conditions of the parole, a certified copy of which must be given to the parolee.  A parolee may, within 120 days of receipt of the certified copy of the terms and conditions of parole, request that the commission modify the terms and conditions of parole; the parolee must specify in writing the reasons for requesting such modifications.

Fla. Stat. § 947.19 provides that a panel of no fewer than two commissioners appointed by the chair considers requests for review of the terms and conditions of parole, render a written decision to continue or to modify the terms and conditions of parole, specifying the reasons therefore, and inform the parolee of the decision in writing within 30 days of the date of receipt of request for review.  Such panel does not include those commissioners who authorized the original conditions of parole.  During any period of requested review of terms and conditions of parole, the parolee is subject to the authorized terms and conditions of parole until such time a decision is made to continue or modify the terms and conditions of parole.

Violations of Parole

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.21, a violation of the terms of parole may render the parolee liable to arrest and a return to prison to serve out the term for which the parolee was sentenced. An offender whose parole is revoked may, at the discretion of the commission, be credited with any portion of the time the offender has satisfactorily served on parole.

Discharge from Parole Supervision or Release Supervision

ursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.24,when a person is placed on parole, control release, or conditional release, the commission determines the period of time the person will be under parole supervision or release supervision in the following manner:

a) If the person is being paroled or released under supervision from a single or concurrent sentence, the period of time the person will be under parole supervision or release supervision may not exceed 2 years unless the commission designates a longer period of time, in which case it must advise the parolee or releasee in writing of the reasons for the extended period.  In any event, the period of parole supervision or release supervision may not exceed the maximum period for which the person has been sentenced.

b) If the person is being paroled or released under supervision from a consecutive sentence or sentences, the period of time the person will be under parole supervision or release supervision will be for the maximum period for which the person was sentenced.

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 947.24, the commission reviews the progress of each person who has been placed on parole, control release, or conditional release after 2 years of supervision in the community and biennially thereafter.  The department provides to the commission the information necessary to conduct such a review.  Such review must include consideration of whether to modify the reporting schedule, thereby authorizing the person under parole supervision or release supervision to submit reports quarterly, semiannually, or annually.  The commission, after having retained jurisdiction of a person for a sufficient length of time to evidence satisfactory rehabilitation and cooperation, may further modify the terms and conditions of the person’s parole, control release, or conditional release, may discharge the person from parole supervision or release supervision, may relieve the person from making further reports, or may permit the person to leave the state or country, upon finding that such action is in the best interests of the person and society[v].

Florida Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] Fla. Stat. § 940.01.

[ii] Fla. Stat. § 947.02.

[iii] Fla. Stat. § 947.16.

[iv] Fla. Stat. § 947.18.

[v] Fla. Stat. § 947.24.