Probation and parole are two similar-sounding terms that most people are familiar with. But, despite having heard them before, a lot of people are unsure as to what the difference between the two is. Both of them involve putting certain limitations on an individual after they’ve been convicted of committing a crime.

Generally, parole involves certain restrictions related to being released early from jail or prison. The court considers the restrictions, and subsequent behavior, to be in liu of additional time incarcerated.

Probation is a little different. Unlike parole, probation doesn’t require someone to be incarcerated. Instead, a defendant is sentenced to probation as an alternative incarceration. The subsequent conditions associated with a person’s probation usually vary depending on what crimes the defendant was charged with and the circumstances of their individual case.

The local probation department operate probation court services for minors in the juvenile system and adults in the adult system. Probation officers both supervise and investigate the defendants. Investigations are all but guaranteed when a defendant is found to have possibly violated their probation.

When someone is on probation it can be supervised, unsupervised, or a mix of the two options. Supervised probation is usually the case when someone is convicted of a felony. Unsupervised probation comes with misdemeanor charges. Of course, things can always change at the judge’s discretion.

When someone is on supervised probation, they must adhere to strict rules or risk being sent to jail to finish out their sentence.

Parole is handled in a similar way. Parolees must meet with a parole officer who checks up on and investigates the parolee. The parolee must also submit to random parole checks where the police enter and search their home.

When a parolee is found to be in violation of the terms of their parole, they could be charged with the crime of violating parole, a crime that carries with it up to a year in county jail in addition to possibly being remanded into police custody to finish out the rest of their sentence in incarceration.

Hopefully this answered the question Probation vs. Parole – What’s the Difference?  Both are very similar in practice, though parole is granted to defendants who served time in jail for their crimes, while probation is sentenced instead of jail time.