What is the Difference Between Parole and Probation?

When involved in legal trouble, there are a number of consequences or charges an individual may face, depending on the crime committed and severity of the infraction(s). Probation and parole are two commonly seen sentences, but they are often confused or mistakenly interchanged by those in society awaiting their sentencing. In Nevada, parole is when an inmate is released from prison earlier than the originally scheduled release date. On the other hand, defendants on probation may avoid going to jail or prison entirely, as this is handed down by the judge at trial. The main procedural difference between the two types of consequences is that probation is stated in part of the initial sentencing, while parole comes later, resulting in early release from a prison sentence. Restrictions placed on parolees are used to encourage positive, good behavior and serve as an incentive for them to avoid additional legal trouble and conflict.

What is Parole?

Parole may become available after a portion of one’s sentence incarceration time has been served. Those eligible are released from jail or prison with mandatory supervision and requirements. We often hear about parole in correspondence to incarceration time being shortened due to good behavior, demonstrating the ability to change their ways and a desire to join society as a productive and cooperative member once again. Sometimes, ruling for parole allows an individual to serve partial time in prison for their sentence and the remainder of their time on parole back in the community. Parolees are required to abide by strict conditions and actions, designed to assist in reducing the chances of repeated behavior or offenses.

Parole is granted by a parole board, after the offender has served some, or in some cases the majority, of their time. The parole board may consider factors and specify any restrictions on the person’s activities while on parole. When they grant parole to an individual, the individual will be given a list of regulations and conditions for their release, which have to be upheld in order to avoid returning to jail. Such conditions of release may include obeying all laws, avoiding alcohol, limited driving access, and more. If the individual fails to comply with any of the conditions of release, it may result in a parole violation. Violations may result in returning to jail for the remainder of the sentence or the committee determining the severity of one’s violation.

What is Probation?

Probation is a special consequence that may be ordered by the judge and court system for an individual who has been found guilty for certain infractions or criminal behavior. Probation allows the individual to reside in their community under the regular supervision of a probation officer. This is not always an option or consideration. Some offenders are sentenced to incarceration without having an offer or opportunity for probation brought to the table. Conditions for one’s probation varies greatly depending on the individual, their community, the circumstances and other factors, but may include:

  • Community service in one’s local community and society
  • Fines or restitution payments for any damages caused by one’s actions
  • Jail time with the opportunity for a probationary period later
  • Drug or alcohol counseling and restrictions on alcohol and tobacco
  • Reporting and responding to one’s probation officer regularly
  • Restricted access and usage to one’s weapon(s)
  • Limited access to areas in one’s community

Similar to probation, you may be able to serve out sentence time outside of incarceration, if you receive parole, allowing you to serve the remainder of your time outside of jail or prison. For both, certain rules must be followed, such as drug testing or counseling session attendance, in order to avoid violations. A probation violation will occur if one disregards the conditions and terms of probation and fails to uphold any establishments made by the court.

Incarceration may be complex and frightening, for both the party involved and their loved ones. Put their well-being and future in hands of experienced lawyers you can trust. Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer who has specific experience in the case type allows you to take the first step to protecting your rights and ensuring the best possible outcome for your case, as well as having a partner to help you better understand the process as you walk through it. You never have to walk alone.

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