The Texas criminal justice system is a sprawling system that often does more to confuse than enlighten. It is not uncommon for people to mix up those terms that are used within the system, including the terms probation and parole, but understanding the distinctions between them can be beneficial.
Probation in the State of Texas
Probation refers to supervision that is ordered by the court and that allows a defendant to remain in the community – instead of serving his or her sentence in either jail or prison. The judge has vast discretion when it comes to handing down required terms for probation, which can include any of the following (for a designated stretch of time):
- Maintaining a job (Are you searching for a job with a misdemeanor drug conviction? Click here to learn more about your options)
- Adhering to a curfew
- Staying off drugs and alcohol
- Completing community service
- Reporting to an assigned probation officer
In essence, probation is a mechanism for allowing offenders at the lower end of the spectrum to demonstrate to the court that they are capable of rehabilitating themselves by living and working in the community and avoiding all criminal activity and probation violations (according to the terms of probation). (Click here to read more about probation violation)
Parole in the State of Texas
Parole differs from probation in that it grants an inmate (rather than someone facing a charge) who has already served some of his or her sentence behind bars the opportunity for community supervision outside of prison for the remainder of his or her sentence. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is often moved to grant parole for prisoners who were models of good behavior while behind bars. Once released on parole, the parolee is required to report to a parole officer, who provides him or her with required terms that must be adhered to and that typically include:
- Reporting regularly to the parole officer
- Avoiding all drugs and alcohol
- Not engaging in criminal activity (or violating any parole requirements)
- Avoiding contact with other criminal offenders
- Adhering to a curfew
Parole amounts to an early release from prison, and parolees are required to strictly adhere to all the community service guidelines laid out for them in order to remain in the community.
Key Distinctions Between the Two
Some of the key distinctions between probation and parole include:
- Probation is granted by a judge or jury, and parole is granted by a parole board.
- Those on probation have generally served no jail time, while parolees have often served a substantial portion of their sentences behind bars.
- Probation is granted to those accused of misdemeanors or lower-level felonies, while parole is granted to convicted felons who have already done time for their convictions.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an impressive criminal attorney who is committed to skillfully advocating for your legal rights and for your case’s most favorable outcome. To learn more about how we can help you, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.