Probation and parole sound like they should be alike, but they are really two different criminal law ideas. Both place a high value on good behavior. Both terms address what is to be done with a defendant who has been convicted of a crime. They even start with the same letter.
The two terms, though, are used at different phases of the criminal law proceedings. There are different legal issues in both probation and parole proceedings that an experienced Knoxville criminal defense lawyer will explain.
What is probation?
Most Tennessee misdemeanors and felonies authorize a judge to sentence someone convicted of a crime to jail time. The sentence can confine a person to a county jail or a state prison. Probation is an alternative to incarceration. Probation is a criminal sentence that keeps the offender’s freedom intact, provided he/she meets the terms of probation.
Common probation terms include:
- Not getting into any further trouble such as being convicted of another crime
- Completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program (if applicable)
- Staying employed or continuing to pursue an education
- Reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis
- Informing the probation office of any intent to move to a new address
The terms of probation vary depending on the particular crime, whether anyone was hurt, and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
Probation isn’t always an option. Some serious crimes require that someone convicted of a crime spend a minimum time in jail. A judge is less likely to suggest probation:
- If a weapon or violence was used
- If the defendant has a prior criminal history
- If the offense was a felony and not a misdemeanor
What is parole?
Parole is the authorized release of someone who is currently incarcerated. It doesn’t end the criminal sentence. It just means the defendant can spend that sentence at home or in the community. Parole is an incentive for people to stay on their best behavior while they are incarcerated.
Like probation, the court can impose conditions on the defendant’s release. The release terms are generally similar to those for people on probation. Instead of a probation officer, the offender meets with a parole officer.
What happens if the terms of probation or parole are violated?
If the offender fails to comply with any required condition, then a hearing will likely be set to determine if the defendant did breach any of the probation or parole terms. If there was a breach, the offender on probation may be sentenced to jail. Someone who was released on parole may be confined again.
If the violation was based on committing another criminal offense, then the offender will need an experienced Knoxville defense lawyer to contest the new charges.
The best way to avoid probation or probation is not to be convicted in the first place. At Banks and Jones, our experienced Knoxville criminal defense lawyers fight to get charges dismissed or to obtain a not guilty verdict. If an accused is convicted, we work hard to persuade the prosecutor and the judge that you should be placed on probation. We are Ready 2 Defend you from criminal charges and charges of breaking probation or parole. To speak with a strong advocate, call us at 865.407.2122 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.