Even though people often use the words “jail” and “prison” as if they mean the same thing, the fact is there are significant differences between the two.
As a rule, jail is where a person is held while they are awaiting trial and where those who have been convicted of minor crimes serve their sentences. Prison, on the other hand, is where those who are convicted of serious crimes serve their sentences.
Let’s look at some of the factors that determine whether a conviction will send someone to jail or to prison.
What Is the Crime in Question and Is There a Mandatory Sentence?
In Florida, certain drug, gun, and sex crimes all have mandatory minimum sentences. The key word here is “mandatory.” If you are convicted of one of these crimes, a judge does not have the discretion to be lenient. In these cases, prison time is a likelihood.
Was the Crime Committed by Someone on Parole or With a Criminal Record?
The likelihood that you will serve your sentence in prison rather than jail increases if you have a record or if you committed a new crime while on parole. Repeat offenses lead to stricter penalties.
How Strong Is the Evidence?
The more damning the evidence against you is, the more likely it is that you are facing a harsher sentence that will include time in prison. The reverse is also true: less compelling evidence may lead to penalties that are less harsh.
How Good Is the Defense Attorney?
It is hard to overstate how important an experienced defense attorney is to how a case turns out. You want to be sure your defense attorney will work vigorously on your behalf—mounting the best possible defense to respond to the charges that have been brought against you.
Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.