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The Main Differences Between Parole and Probation

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The Main Differences Between Parole and Probation

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Many people confuse parole and probation. Understand that either is an alternative to incarceration. Importantly, probation happens before, and sometimes instead of, the fulfillment of a jail or prison sentence. In contrast, parole represents the early release from prison.

In either parole or probation, the offender is supervised. He or she is required to follow specific guidelines and rules. Guidelines are sometimes referred to as conditions of parole, or probation conditions. In both, the offender must submit to a warrantless search (search without a warrant), even if no probable cause exists.

In this post, we compare and contrast probation and parole in Texas:

Probation in Texas

Probation permits the defendant to live in the community instead of serving his or her sentence in jail or prison. It’s possible for the defendant to stay free while meeting the terms of probation.

Probation is a certain time period before a sentenced defendant is sent to jail or prison:

  • When the defendant receives probation, the judge provides him or her with an opportunity to demonstrate the desire for rehabilitation.
  • Even if the defendant is deemed guilty, the judge temporarily suspends the jail orre prison sentence during the probation period.
  • If the defendant follows the judge’s instructions to the letter, then he or she won’t be sent to jail or prison to finish the sentence.
  • If he or she violates the terms of probation, the judge issues a new sentence depending on the initial crime and violation.

Do you need assistance with an inmate’s parole?
Contact experienced attorney Greg Tsioros today for a consultation 

Conditions of Probation in Texas

When a person is on probation but not in jail, he or she is often subject to some of the same conditions, including abiding by curfew rules, mandated participation in rehab programs, and regular drug tests. On probation, he or she may be required to pay fines, restitution, court costs, and any court-mandated attorney’s fees.

It’s possible for the individual to be on probation from one year to 10 years:

  • A probation officer manages the individual’s probation.
  • The probation officer submits reports to the judge, monitors the defendant’s progress, and advises him or her of the importance of abiding by the terms and conditions of probation.
  • The length of probation differs with the level of crime the defendant was charged with in Texas:
  • He or she faces a five to 10-year range of probation (first-degree felony)
  • He or she faces a two to 10-year range of probation (second-degree felony)
  • He or she faces a two to 10-year range of probation (third-degree felony)
  • He or she faces a two to five-year range of probation (state jail felony)
  • He or she faces a one-day to two-year range of probation (Class A or B misdemeanor)

If a judge is unhappy with the probationer’s performance, he or she may issue a capias that demands the defendant’s return to court. He or she will then be subject to final sentencing.

In the event of final sentencing, the defendant must serve actual jail or prison time.

Parole in Texas

Parole is the time period after an offender receives a release from prison:

  • The parolee faces most of the same safeguards and controls as the probationer.
  • Conditions of parole might include requiring him or her to live in a halfway house while continuing to pay financial obligations and fines.
  • A parolee reports to a parole officer.
  • A parole officer defines the requirements and expectations of parole and monitors the parolee’s progress.
  • Similar to the probationer, if the parolee doesn’t comply with his or her specific parole conditions, the parole officer may submit a report to the parole board.
  • Depending on the defendant’s parole behavior, the parole board may order the parolee be returned to prison in order to finish the remainder of the sentence.

Differences of Parole and Probation in Texas

Probation and parole are functionally quite similar:

  • Both probation and parole want to help the defendant to break negative behaviors and habits that resulted in their breaking the law.
  • Although probation and parole provide a rehabilitation component, the overarching process must protect the community as well.
  • Parole aims to reintegrate the defendant into the social community.
  • A defendant’s parole or probation conditions may be changed or amended. For instance, if he or she was convicted of child molestation, the court may order him or her to keep away from areas that children frequent, such as playgrounds, schools, and parks.

Conditions of parole and probation must relate to the defendant’s underlying offense and/or rehab:

  • Conditions depend on whether the defendant is on parole or probation.
  • A probationer is still subject to the court’s jurisdiction: the judge may modify or amend the conditions of probation at any time after an order is issued.
  • Changes in parole aren’t implemented via court order. Parole conditions are typically established by the parole board for all defendants:

1. All defendants must not commit new offenses and abide by the law.

2. He or she may be required to maintain a job.

3. He or she must report any changes in residence in advance.

4. Changes in procedures or conditions are established by the parole board or parole officer in an administrative proceeding.

5. This is important: the defendant is provided with fewer state and constitutional protections in an administrative hearing.

6. Engaging an experienced criminal defense attorney is recommended at this time.

Consequences of a Texas Parole Violation

When a defendant doesn’t comply with his or her parole conditions, it’s possible to be brought before members of the parole board to determine the consequences:

  • The defendant’s parole could be revoked.
  • He or she could be ordered back to prison to serve the rest of the sentence.
  • The defendant’s parole could be reinstated and allow him or her to continue the parole process.

The defendant isn’t provided with a jury trial option. Unlike the probationer, the parolee’s cap often follows the sentence. For instance, if he or she was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the defendant may be on/off parole for up to 10 years.

Parole and Probation Departments in Texas

It’s essential for the parolee or probationer to maintain a positive relationship with the parole or probation officer. In Texas, the agencies overseeing parole and probation are split: A defendant has one officer on probation and a different officer for parole.

Protect Your Rights on Probation or Parole

Probation and parole are complex topics, but the bottom-line is obvious. Both probation and parole mean greater freedom to the defendant.

Clearly, it’s essential to have experienced legal representation when facing a criminal charge. The defendant should place as much effort in obtaining knowledgeable counsel to assist with the parole process:

  • The defendant has fewer constitutional protections when parole revocation is considered.
  • With fewer built-in safeguards, the defendant needs the best criminal defense attorney he or she can procure.

Parole and probation differ. They describe different processes:

  • Parole is carried out by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
  • Only parole involves jail. It is a conditional release from prison.
  • Probation is an alternative to jail. It is carried out by the Texas criminal justice system.

If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge, take steps now to improve the potential outcome of your case. If you have questions about the probation–or the complex parole process in Texas, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros at 832-752-5972 for an initial case evaluation now.

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