Probation and Parole: What’s the Difference?

Naperville criminal defense lawyer, probation, parole, criminal justice system, probation officerMany are familiar with the terms “probation” and “parole,” but they cannot articulate the difference between the two unless they have experienced one or both. Probation and parole are both supervised alternatives to incarceration, but they are not the same thing. Nor are they really related to each other. If you are facing a criminal charge, your criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the differences between probation and parole as well as answer any questions you have about the criminal justice process and what you can expect from your case. 

Probation is an Alternative to Incarceration

With many criminal charges, individuals who are convicted face probation as a penalty. Upon finding a defendant guilty, the court may impose probation instead of sending him or her to jail. The court determines the length of the individual’s probation period based on the circumstances of the case and the duration permitted for his or her charge.

While on probation, an individual is subject to certain supervision requirements, like drug testing, curfews, and regular check-ins with a probation officer.

Parole is a Release from Jail or Prison

Unlike probation, which is an alternative to incarceration from the outset, parole is an incarcerated individual’s release from jail or prison.

The purpose of parole is to reintegrate a convicted individual into society. Conditions imposed on an individual on parole can include living in a halfway house and facing regular drug tests.

Both Involve Accountability and Consequences for Violations

Both probation and parole come with requirements for convicted individuals, such as:

  • Meeting with an officer regularly;
  • Required completion of programs related to the offense, such as a drug rehabilitation program; and
  • Specific requirements to prevent the individual from committing another offense, such as a curfew or barring him or her from going to certain places.

When an individual violates the terms of his or her parole or probation, he or she can face consequences. This violation could be something as simple as failing to meet with an officer at a required time or it can be an entirely new offense. Typically, not being charged with a new criminal offense is a requirement for probation and parole. A parole violation can send an individual back to jail to serve the remainder of his or her sentence. For a probation violation, the individual can face a new sentence.

Work with an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you are charged with a criminal offense, probation could be on the table. If you are sentenced to jail or prison, parole could also be something you will contend with later. To learn more about what to expect from the criminal justice system based on your charge and how to navigate issues related to probation and parole, speak with an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer. Contact our team at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with us.