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How do parole and probation differ?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Facing a criminal charge in California often leads to receiving a jail sentence. Spending time locked up and away from family, friends, work and life outside four walls can be brutal. In some cases, there is no need to accept a lengthy prison term. A second chance could be right around the corner, and something more tolerable than a maximum prison sentence — involving parole or probation — may be available.

Parole vs. probation

If you’ve read into the possible consequences you may face for your crime or watched any criminal-themed shows or movies, you’ve likely heard the terms parole and probation. Depending on the severity of a crime, it’s possible you could qualify for either of these.

Probation is essentially what some offenders can qualify for in place of a jail sentence. A probation officer will watch over the offender to make sure they follow the conditions of probation. It often runs from three to five years and involves limited liberties, like being unable to leave home or having a curfew. And if an offender breaks a rule, they may wind up in jail. Plus, it’s important to note that a judge can order an individual to serve both jail time and probation early in the sentencing process.

On the other hand, parole, when approved, is something offenders partake in, in addition to prison time. It’s a conditional release, so like probation, violating the conditions of parole or an early release can lead to going back behind bars. Rather than a judge granting probation, a board will determine if an inmate is a good candidate.

Common conditions of probation and parole often involve meeting regularly with not committing another crime, meeting with an assigned officer, getting a job and going through rehab.

Will I qualify for less jail time?

Sentencing is all dependent on laws that correlate with the crime committed. And approval for probation or parole also depends on whether the crime was violent and the offender’s age and health conditions.

If you are approaching your sentencing hearing, it’s vital to plan to seek the help of a seasoned attorney to help you get closer to a fresh start.