The Difference Between Probation and Parole
Two criminal law terms that often get confused are probation and parole. Although the underlying concept is the same in that an offender is released into the community, the circumstances surrounding the release into society are what makes the big difference between the two concepts.
What is probation?
Probation is a punishment for a crime that is instituted in lieu of jail or prison time. Probation often comes with strict requirements with which an offender must comply in order to remain in good standing on probation. Common probation terms include the following:
- Checks with a probation officer
- Attending drug/alcohol rehabilitation
- Mandatory counseling or therapy
- Applying for employment and/or keeping a job
Probation is often accompanied by a community service requirement, for which offenders must complete a certain number of hours performing works for an approved organization or group.
The failure to satisfy any terms of probation could result in its revocation; in that instance, the offender will be sentenced again, likely to incarceration.
What is parole?
Parole is the conditional release from incarceration. That is, an offender who has already served the minimum required time in jail or prison may be eligible to be released from the remainder of the sentence under certain conditions applied by the court.
Parole is still part of an offender’s sentence, but it is served outside the jail or prison walls. Generally in order to be eligible for parole, an inmate must show a commission at a parole hearing that he has demonstrated good behavior and respect for the prison’s rules and that he is not a threat to society.
As with probation, conditions are attached to parole, and may include the following:
- Regular checks with a parole officer
- No additional crimes committed
- Drug/alcohol rehabilitation
- Anger management or other counseling
- Not associating with other convicted criminals
If you’d like to learn more about probation and parole, contact a criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss your specific situation.