Probation and parole are similar though ultimately distinct. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, you may be asking yourself: what is the difference between probation and parole?
Probation in Texas
Probation is an alternative to jail or prison for people who have been convicted of a crime. It is court-order supervision which lets someone stay in the community instead of going to jail. If, that is, they satisfy certain conditions set by the judge. Common conditions include:
- Going to school or maintaining a job
- Being drug-free and undergoing periodic drug testing
- Not breaking any more laws
- Meeting regularly with a probation officer
Probation can last for any length of time, sometimes up to 10 years. It is a popular sentence for low-level offenders who often do not have a criminal history. At the end of the probation period, the probationer is free and no longer subject to the conditions set by the court.
However, if the probationer violates a condition of their parole, then they could end up in jail. In other words, probation requires that defendants be on their best behavior to stay out of jail.
Some probation is called “deferred adjudication.” At the end of the probation period, the charges are dismissed and no conviction appears on a probationer’s criminal record.
Parole in Texas
Parole is essentially early release from prison for someone who has served some time already. Once released on parole, the defendant must abide by certain conditions, much like on probation. If they violate a condition, they could end up back in jail to serve the remainder of their sentence.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles grants parole to prisoners who have exhibited excellent behavior. In this way, parole serves as an incentive to behave while in jail so that an inmate can enjoy their freedom. It is also a way to reduce congestion in Texas jails by removing people who have shown they can reintegrate successfully back into society.
What is the Difference between Probation and Parole?
As you can see, the key difference is whether the defendant served some jail time. With parole, they have. With probation, they have served very little or no time in jail for the offense.
Another key difference is eligibility. Generally, probation is not available to someone whose sentence is 10 years or longer. However, someone could receive parole regardless of the seriousness of the offense.
Speak to Simer & Tetens Today
If you or a loved one has been accused of violating the conditions of probation or parole, we want to hear from you. A violation does not necessarily mean you will end up in jail, but you need an experienced Waco criminal defense attorney to defend you.
Our team of attorneys has years of experience helping people accused of all kinds of crimes, from low-level misdemeanors to serious felonies. We can review your case for free and help identify the best path forward. Contact us for a free consultation.