When you are facing incarceration, you may wonder if you have alternatives. Luckily, there are options for you: aspects known as probation and parole. The main difference is all in the definition: With probation, you receive it prior to jail or prison. Parole, instead, is an early release from prison. The thing that remains the same for both is that the party is supervised and expected to follow certain guidelines under probation and parole. We will help you understand the small details of both, and how they differ from one another.


Probation occurs prior to jail time in many cases, and sometimes instead of jail. A judge will typically offer probation as a way for the defendant to prove that they can rehabilitate themselves instead of sending them straight to prison. If the judge finds the defendant guilty, they may suspend the sentence while probation is enforced. If they follow all the guidelines of probation, then they may never see the inside of jail or could be given a new, lighter sentence.

There are conditions to probation that you must follow if it has been decided for you. This may include curfew, rehab programs, or drug tests. A defendant may also be ordered to pay a fine, court costs, restitution, and more. The length of time that a person can spend on probation can range anywhere from a couple of months to a few years.


Parole, on the other hand, is the period of time after a defendant is released from prison. There will still be safeguards in place for you to follow, however. You will usually report to a parole officer, who will give you expectations to follow. If you comply with the conditions of your parole, you are safe – however, if you do not comply, you may have to go in front of a parole board and return to prison to finish your sentence.

Subtle Differences 

Parole is a bit different from probation because it actually has an added benefit: It helps reintegrate a defendant into society. A parole officer will work with you to change anything as needed, so that you can sustain employment and move forward in your life. Parole changes are also not usually the result of a court order, but instead set by the parole board. The parole board, instead of the judge, usually make the decisions and rules.

It is a good idea to always understand your rights and expectations if you have received a chance at probation or parole. It is a valid concern to maintain that good representation, which is why you should speak to us today. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we can help you understand your options and how to move forward in your case.