Two Confusing Terms: Parole And Probation

Posted on: 28 April 2019


The terms parole and probation are often used interchangeably, and they are similar. If you have been accused of a crime and are attempting to evaluate the possibility of a plea bargain or taking your case to trial, it's vital that you have a full understanding of parole, probation, and other criminal justice issues. Read on to find out more.

How Parole and Probation are Similar

If you end up being convicted of a crime, you may face a myriad of punishments. Financial fees can run the gamut from court costs and fines to victim restitution. Depending on the crime you might also face a loss of personal freedom. Jail and prison are real possibilities for those that have previous criminal charges or that committed a particularly serious crime. That is where these two correctional system-related terms come into the picture. One allows you to avoid incarceration and one allows you to be released from incarceration. Both terms mean freedom – but supervised freedom.


Once you have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, you might only be released with the condition that you follow the restrictions of parole. Being "out on parole" means that your movements and activities are closely monitored to ensure that you remain a law-abiding citizen. All parole plans involve staying in contact with a parole officer and abiding by a strict set of rules. Failure to do so can result in an almost instantaneous return to a prison cell. Parolees have been convicted of a felony that merited imprisonment and therefore are monitored far more closely than those who are granted probation.


With jail over-crowding being a common occurrence, probation gives those convicted of a crime the chance to be free of incarceration. As long as you obey the rules of probation, you can serve time while working at your job, attending school, and enjoying your family. If you commit another crime during probation and are convicted, the level of punishment rises considerably higher. Additionally, any crime committed is branded a violation of probation and considered a separate and additional crime.

Conditions of Parole and Probation

Though the consequences of disobedience are far more serious for parolees, most of the time there are commonalities in the conditions for both parole and probation, such as:

  • Check-ins and meetings with parole or probation officers.
  • Having a place to live and being employed.
  • No weapons.
  • No contact with other felons.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney to find out more about either of the two potential forms of correctional supervision.