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Is Parole The Same Thing As Probation?

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In criminal law, you might hear the terms probation and parole and think that they are the same. While they are both legal terms, they are not the same thing. In fact, here are several things to know about parole and probation that will help you understand what each of these are.


If a person is arrested, charged with a crime, and placed in prison or jail to serve a sentence for the crime, he or she will have to serve the sentence for the length of time the court orders. In many situations, though, people are released before they are supposed to be. When this occurs, it is often because the court agrees to release them on parole. Parole is a term that refers to the early release of a sentence, and it is often the reward for good behavior.

In order to stay out of jail on parole, the person would have to follow certain rules, including not breaking any crimes. A person on parole is also given responsibilities that he or she must complete and follow. Failing to follow these will result in returning back to jail or prison. For example, the person is likely to need to hold a job during this time. He or she might also be required to report to a probation officer on a routine schedule. He or she might have to complete and pass drug tests as well and avoid drinking any alcohol during this time.

To be released on parole, the inmate will have to apply for parole and go through a parole hearing. To have a better chance of getting this approved, the inmate should consider hiring a criminal lawyer for help.


Probation is often a punishment a person receives instead of jail or prison time, and it generally lasts for one year or longer. The length will depend on the person and the nature of the crime. When on probation, a person will have a long list of rules to follow and will have to meet with a probation officer. Probation allows a person to avoid going to jail, yet it holds the person accountable due to the rules he or she must follow.

When a person is released from jail or prison, he or she will often be placed on probation for a certain length of time, but probation is also used as an alternative to jail time.

If you have questions about either of these or need help with your case, contact a criminal defense attorney today.