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Difference Between Probation and Parole

If you are facing criminal charges for the first time, soon you will be learning a number of new legal terms, such as probation and parole. You’ve probably heard these terms most of your life, you may have even had a family member who was “on probation” or “out on parole,” but do you know the difference between probation and parole?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), probation is when a court places an adult offender on supervision in the community in lieu of incarceration. However, some jurisdictions will order a prisoner to carry out a short-term sentence, which is immediately followed by a term of probation – this is known as a “split sentence.”

When it comes to probation, there are a different supervision statuses, such as active supervision and inactive status. With active supervision, the probationer is required to report regularly in person, by phone, or by mail.

With a minor offense, the probationer may be placed on inactive status, or they may be reduced to supervision and downgraded from active status to inactive status.

Often, probationers are required to fulfill a number of conditions, such as:

  • Pay fines
  • Pay court costs
  • Stay away from known criminals
  • Do not use drugs
  • Stay away from alcohol
  • Do not get arrested for a new crime
  • Participate in a treatment program
  • Adhere to specific rules of conduct
  • Anything else the judge deems necessary

Note: if a probationer fails to adhere to his or her conditions of probation, they can be incarcerated as a result.

What is parole?

Parole is not the same as probation. With parole, the criminal offender was sent to prison but was conditionally released so they can serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community.

How are prisoners released on parole? They are released by either a parole board decision (discretionary release or parole), or according to a provision in a statute (mandatory release or parole).

As with probationers, parolees can have different statuses, such as active supervision where they must report regularly in person, by mail, or by telephone, and inactive status, where they are not required to report regularly.

Another supervision status is where the parolee only has financial conditions that remain, or they have an active warrant. Just like probationers, parolees must adhere to certain conditions that are set forth by the court and if they violate a term of their parole, it can result in them being sent back to prison.

If you are facing criminal charges in Plano or Dallas, or if you violated a condition of your probation or parole, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for a hard-hitting defense!

Categories: Probation, Parole