Understanding Parole and Probation

In some cases, individuals who are convicted of a crime may be eligible for alternative sentencing in the form of parole or probation. But, how might these alternatives affect your sentence? Here, the criminal attorneys at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell explain the basics of parole and probation.

What is Probation?

Probation is a court-mandated sanction that allows a criminal offender to live in their community under the supervision of a probation officer. Probation may either be in lieu of a jail sentence, or assigned after a jail sentence is completed. Each probation agreement is unique, and can include a wide variety of conditions that an offender is required to meet. These conditions can include community service time, drug or alcohol rehabilitation classes, counseling, fines, weapons restrictions, drug or alcohol restrictions, and regular meetings with a probation officer, among others. Probationers may also not violate any local, state or federal laws while on probation. Even minor legal infractions could potentially cause an individual to lose their probation, and be returned or sent to jail. A probation officer will stay in regular contact with a probationer to ensure the terms of the probation are being met.

The period of probation will be determined as a judge sees fit. The time assigned to an offender for probation will vary depending on the crime committed, the offender’s defense, extenuating circumstances of the case and more. Not every criminal offender will be eligible for probation—it is a privilege, not a right. It is vital to speak to your criminal attorney to determine if probation is a possibility in your unique legal situation.

What is Parole?

Parole is granted by a parole board—a panel of judges, criminologists, psychiatrists and other individuals of “good moral fiber”—if it is decided that a criminal offender, who has served a portion or majority of their original jail sentence, deserves to be released early. Parole lasts for the duration of the original sentence: if an individual convicted of theft is sentenced to five years in jail, but is granted parole after two, their parole period would encompass the remaining three years.

Should an offender be granted parole, they are expected to abide by certain rules and expectations. This can include obtaining lawful employment, remaining in a set geographic area, abstaining from drugs or alcohol and attending rehab or counseling. Those who violate the terms of their parole may be sent back to jail to finish the remainder of their original sentence, depending on the violation committed. Like probation, a parole officer will meet regularly with a parolee to ensure they are meeting the requirements of their parole. Parole officers have the right to visit the parolee’s residence unannounced to ensure the parolee is meeting their parole obligations.

How Can My Criminal Attorney Help Me Understand My Options?

Probation or parole may be available to certain individuals, depending on the unique facts relative to their case. Parole and probation can be extremely beneficial ways for those convicted of a crime to retain a certain level of freedom and independence, as deemed appropriate by the related authorities. The dedicated legal professionals at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell are committed to exploring all sentencing options for their clients, and have the experience and knowledge necessary to vigorously pursue these options in and out of the courtroom. For more information, we urge you to contact us!

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