Probation and Parole
Many people are unsure about the differences between probation and parole. Both involve some limitations and restrictions on an individual stemming from a criminal conviction. Parole usually involves conditional restrictions related to early release from incarceration. Probation is often conditional behavior that is an alternative to prison time. The conditions for an individual’s probation and parole vary greatly, depending on the criminal charge. Additionally, the criminal judge has a lot of discretion in what conditions to order for the individual facing probation or parole.
Local probation departments operate both adult and juvenile court probation services, including investigation and supervision. The probation officer (PO) is responsible for supervising the person on probation, and enforcing their individual terms of probation. Individuals on probation, or “probationers,” are required to report to their assigned probation officers, as per their probation orders. The probation officer may explain the terms of probation, monitor court and restitution payments, and monitor counseling sessions and/or drug and alcohol testing.
Probation can be supervised, unsupervised, or split between the two. Supervised probation requires following the strict rules set forth in probationary terms. This can include avoiding certain areas and individuals, geographic limitations, required attendance at school or work, limits on owning or possessing a weapon, the necessary submission to periodic searches, and/or a curfew.
Unsupervised probation, also known as informal probation, usually has fewer restrictions and less oversight. Generally, unsupervised probation only requires that you do not violate any other criminal offenses during the period of probation.
One of the most common ways people encounter probation is as the result of a DUI. Most first-time DUIs in California will result in probation, rather than jail time. The judge will require that you follow certain rules and complete certain requirements. Most DUI probation terms will prohibit refusing a chemical test after a subsequent DUI arrest, and prohibit driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in the blood. Additionally, the driver will have to pay assessed court fees and fines, and complete DUI School. Failure to follow the terms of a DUI probation will result in a DUI probation violation.
Parole involves an individual’s conditional release from prison. After serving time for a criminal offense, the state may decide to release the person from prison, where they will be required to follow certain rules and requirements. Similarly to probation, a parolee will have to report to their parole officer, as per the terms of their parole. The parole officer may explain the rules and regulations of their parole, monitor any court and restitution payments or fees, monitor counseling sessions, and monitor drug and alcohol testing.
Violating Probation or Parole
If you are able to stick to the terms of your parole or probation, complete all the requirements, and stay out of trouble during the entire parole or probationary period, then your probation officer or parole officer will be able to sign off on your probation or parole, and you will be able to go about your normal life. However, if at any time during probation or parole you violate the terms, then you risk being sent back to jail.
If the terms of probation are violated, the probation officer will report the violation, which may result in an arrest warrant. Violation will usually result in a probation violation hearing with your probation officer and the judge. During this hearing, the judge may maintain the terms of your probation, change the terms of probation based on the alleged violation, or completely revoke probation, which will likely mean jail time.
When parole terms and conditions are violated, the parole officer will report their findings to the court. The parolee may end up with a warrant out for their arrest, and be remanded back to jail. After a parole violation hearing is set, the judge will determine whether to reinstate the terms of parole, change the terms of parole, or revoke parole and send the parolee back to jail to serve the remainder of their sentence.
Even though a probation violation hearing and a parole violation hearing are different than a criminal hearing, you still have the right to have your attorney present. In some cases, you can appeal the findings of a probation violation hearing, and your attorney can fight back so that you don’t end up behind bars.
California Defense Lawyer
A criminal conviction can mean more than jail time and fines. Even if you avoid jail time, you may be required to follow the terms of parole or probation for years to come. An accidental or unavoidable mistake could result in a violation that results in additional time behind bars.
Your California criminal defense lawyer can not only fight to keep you out of jail and get you the best probation terms possible, if you violate probation or parole, your lawyer will fight to keep you from going back to jail. A parole violation or probation violation does not have to mean an automatic ticket to jail. You may stand a better chance than you realize to stay out of jail, and get your life back to normal.