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Is there a difference between parole and probation?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Legal terms can be challenging, and while some are commonly used interchangeably, they may mean different things. And good examples are parole and probation. Maryland’s Division of Parole and Probation under the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services offers these services to residents. But are they the same thing?

Here is what you need to know:

They differ in who receives them

Both parole and probation provide a second chance to offenders, but they differ in who receives them. Parole is given to someone who was imprisoned but released before the determined sentence expires. For instance, if one proves they have reformed, they can be released into parole for good behavior.

On the other hand, probation is given to a defender who has been convicted but whose jail term is suspended. Thus, someone may receive probation without serving jail time.

Are they treated the same?

Parolees and probationers are subjected to almost similar requirements when in the community. They have to observe set rules, and violating them can result in returning to jail for parolees or being incarcerated for probationers. Nonetheless, someone on parole is supervised by an agent of the division until their initial sentence expires, whereas a probationer can be supervised or unsupervised, depending on their case.

A probationer may be required to follow the requirements set by the judge without reporting to a probation agent (unsupervised). Conversely, one may need to report to an officer from the division (supervised). However, besides reporting, both supervised and unsupervised probationers should follow certain requirements, and not doing so may constitute a violation. 

It’s vital to understand legal terms, especially when facing a charge. It may also help to get the right experience and knowledge to make informed decisions.