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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Monday, May 23, 2022

Is there a Difference Between Probation and Parole?

There are some legal terms that are used interchangeably, even though there are distinct differences between them. Two such words are “probation” and “parole.” While you may have some sense as to what these terms mean, it is important to note that they both refer to two distinct legal processes. Let’s sort them out here by discussing their distinctive features.

Is there a Difference Between Probation and Parole?

Probation is court-ordered supervision. It allows a defendant to stay in their community as opposed to serving time in jail or prison. Oftentimes, probation is negotiated in a plea deal with the prosecutor on the case. It can also be set, however, through an open plea to a judge, or from a jury at a criminal trial. It should be noted that those who have been previously convicted of a felony charge will not technically be eligible for probation. In fact, the jury will be prohibited from granting you probation at your sentencing hearing.

If you are granted probation, you have been given the opportunity to demonstrate to the court that you are able to rehabilitate yourself while out in the community. You will be expected to avoid violations and comply with other set terms of your probation which may include:

  • Observing a curfew
  • Maintaining a job
  • Avoiding drug use
  • Avoiding alcohol use
  • Participating in a rehabilitation program
  • Completing community service hours
  • Regularly reporting to your probation officer
  • Complying with and passing random drug testing
  • Paying fines, restitution, court costs, and other fees

A person may be on probation from one to 10 years. Should a probationer fail to comply with the probation terms, then a court may issue a capias demanding the probationer return to court. In court, the probationer may be subject to final sentencing and be ordered to serve a period of incarceration.

Parole, on the other hand, is not a program intended for a defendant to avoid serving in jail but is instead a program for an inmate who has already served a period of incarceration for a felony level offense. Participation in parole is granted by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to those inmates who have displayed good behavior while incarcerated. Upon release on parole, the parolee will be required to check in with a parole officer with the Texas Parole Division. They may also be subject to specific parole terms, including:

  • Avoiding drug use
  • Avoiding alcohol use
  • Avoiding additional violations and criminal activity
  • Avoiding contact with other offenders
  • Complying with a curfew
  • Paying financial obligations and fines

Should a parolee fail to comply with parole conditions, it is likely their parole officer will submit a report reflecting such. This may, in turn, lead to the parolee being returned to prison to serve out the remainder of their sentence.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are facing criminal charges, there is no time to delay. Get in touch with the trusted criminal defense team at Navarrete & Schwartz. We are proud to serve the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.


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