What Are the Differences Between Probation and Parole?

Parole and probation are similar in that they both result in a defendant spending less time in prison. However, they involve different legal procedures.

Probation Defined

The U.S. Probation Office, District of Arizona oversees probation, which is a term of community supervision that the court imposes instead of a prison sentence. Sentencing can also be a combination of incarceration and a period of time under probation. When used in combination, conditions for probation also depend on good behavior for the time served in prison. The time spent under probation typically involves treatment and restitution based on the type of case. For example, adult drug court includes drug treatment and weekly urinalysis testing, along with rewards and sanctions based on behavior. Programs last one year or more. Probation for high-risk convictions may involve house arrest, and individuals on probation must comply with strict schedules, intensive supervision, community service, mandatory drug testing and frequent contact with their employers. You must submit your paychecks, and the court withdraws money for certain assessments. Courts may require various types of counseling, education classes and other social services participation.

Parole Defined

Parole is also a period of community supervision. However, the U.S. Parole Commission grants parole, not the court, and parole always occurs after release from prison. When released on parole, you are under the supervision of the State Department of Corrections. Parole, like probation, also includes making any court-ordered restitution and participating in education classes or drug treatment programs as determined by the parole board.

A criminal defense lawyer often negotiates probation as part of a plea bargain. Attorneys can also work with clients to help them qualify for parole. By obtaining an experienced law firm, you can protect your rights and increase the likelihood of a better outcome for your case.