Probation and parole allow convicted individuals to avoid prison time or be released after serving a significant part of their sentence.
Inmates can receive probation and parole instead of or part of a prescribed sentence time for the offense committed. Not adhering to the regulations imposed while under probation or parole may result in revocation and, in some instances, incarceration.
However, probation and parole can sometimes be confusing. Some even use these two terms interchangeably, which is incorrect because they are legally different.
With the help of this article, you’ll be able to answer questions concerning the legal definitions of probation and parole and how they differ:
What are the conditions and regulations of probation and parole, and what kind of violations can a probationer or parolee commit that may result in revocation?
This article will help you better understand probation and parole and how they can help inmates rehabilitate and eventually reenter society.
You’ll know the difference in conditions and regulations between each term. In addition, you’ll know the consequences when an inmate violates probation or parole regulations.
Parole and probation aim to rehabilitate offenders and help them back into society through guidance, hoping they’ll not commit the same crime or a new offense.
Suppose you have an incarcerated loved one, and you’re helping them process their application for parole or probation. In that case, you’ll need to get information like criminal records, facility information, and inmate location.
LookUpInmate.org is an easy-to-use facility and inmate locator that covers more than 7,000 correctional facilities in the United States. You can search criminal records and court decisions crucial for legal actions like parole revocation hearings.
Sometimes, the law allows offenders with a criminal offense to serve an alternative punishment to a jail sentence. Convicted individuals can be placed on probation or parole, privileges given by the court to inmates who meet the requirements.
The court orders probation when the offender isn’t a threat to the safety of society. When the circumstances of the crime are not that serious, jail time may be unnecessary.
What Is Felony Probation?
Felony probation is a type of probation given to people convicted of felony offenses. In U.S. law, felonies are criminal charges usually punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. Felonies include serious crimes like burglary, murder, and rape.
In specific situations, people with felony cases can be given probation by the court. This order means the offender can stay in a community instead of spending time in a county or federal prison. Usually, a probation period may last up to five years, though this may vary from state to state.
What’s the Difference Between Probation and Parole?
Although both terms describe restricted living outside a county jail or prison, parole and probation have procedural differences.
Probation is part of the offender’s initial sentence, handed down by a judge during sentencing. On the other hand, parole is usually granted by a parole board after an inmate has already served some time in prison.
Conditions of Probation
The success of a probation sentence hinges on the diligent compliance of a probationer while following probation conditions.
Suppose you’re an inmate given this privilege. In this case, you should strictly follow the conditions of your probation period. If you fail to follow the terms of your probation, the court can order a revocation of probation and send you back to jail.
What Are Some Common Felony Probation Conditions?
States impose general conditions for probation to which probationers are expected to comply, such as:
- Report to a probation office in the federal judicial district within 72 hours after their release from prison.
- Follow all instructions received from the court or probation officer.
- Truthfully answer when asked by a probation officer.
- Get permission when leaving a judicial district where they are authorized to reside.
- Work full-time (minimum of 30 hours a week) at legitimate employment unless excused by the probation officer.
- Allow a probation officer to visit their residence and take any items prohibited by the conditions of probation.
- Ensure that there aren’t any firearms, ammunition, destructive devices, or dangerous weapons in their possession.
- Avoid communication with people known to be involved in criminal activities.
Note that conditions vary considerably depending on how a state handles probation and parole.
Violations of Probation
In the U.S., states have different ways of determining when people violate probation terms. However, probation violation generally occurs when an inmate ignores, refuses, avoids, or breaks conditions imposed while serving probation.
Types of Probation Violations
According to U.S. law, there are two types of probation violations: technical violations and substantial violations.
- Technical violations: The probationer didn’t commit any crime but failed to comply with the conditions of probation.
- Substantive violations: The probationer committed a new crime. A new offense means facing a probation violation hearing and a trial for the new crime.
Do note that states may have additional criteria for probation violations. It’s best to seek help from a criminal defense attorney to seek advice and guidance regarding law enforcement.
How Much Jail Time Could One Get for Violating Probation?
Jail time due to probation violations may vary between states. In California, courts may order a violator to serve the rest of the prison sentence suspended due to probation. Another possible outcome is that the probation violator will receive the entire jail term for the offense.
What’s the Jail Time for a Felony Probation Violation?
The jail term for probation violators depends on the state where the probationer is located and the offense committed. To cite an example, in California, probation violators may end up spending time for 16 months to more than three years.
What Happens if the U.S. Accuses You of Violating Probation: The Procedure
A probation violation can lead to incarceration. The U.S. government will take action through a probation officer.
For example, Massachusetts has procedures applicable when a probationer violates the condition of this alternative sentencing:
- The probation officer will request a warrant of arrest.
- The probationer will be required to go to court, where a judge will give added conditions to the existing probation.
- Compliance credit will be taken away.
- If deemed necessary, the court will revoke the probation and may sentence the violator to serve prison time.
Will There Be Jail Time for a First Probation Violation?
Different states have various rulings on the level of leniency shown to first-time violators. For example, probation is taken seriously in Minnesota, and even first-time violators can face jail or prison time.
A probationer facing a probation violation charge still has rights that should be enforced.
The following are general rights given to a probation violator:
- Right to a written notice of the violation
- Right to be heard by a neutral judge in court hearings
- Right to have an attorney as legal representation in court
A plea bargain is a negotiation between the prosecution and the defendant to settle a case. Both parties may offer conditions that will benefit the prosecution and defense. Once the negotiation is completed, the two parties will reach a plea agreement, thus settling the case faster than going through the trial.
In many cases, the probation may already be part of a plea agreement settled by the defendant and prosecution. However, probation laws may vary depending on the state law and jurisdiction.
Appearance on Motion to Revoke
When the probation officer confirms that a probationer has violated the terms of probation, the district attorney can issue a motion to revoke.
What Happens Next?
When a probation officer finds out a possible case of probation violation, a motion will be made to revoke the probation. The motion will be brought to a judge, where the case will be reviewed.
If the judge determines probable cause, the court will issue a warrant or notice for the probationary to appear, and probation revocation proceedings will start.
The preponderance of the evidence is a standard in which the prosecution presents evidence showing that a probationer is more than likely to have committed a violation.
An allegation is when a party claims a violation has happened or an affirmative defense refutes the accusations for the defendant’s case. The prosecution files a complaint which includes the alleged violations, which begins a lawsuit.
Allegations become serious if the complaint shows claims that can result in probation revocation. It is considered severe because the allegations can result in a probationer losing privileges and being sent to prison.
Court proceedings may differ between states. However, in most cases, the burden of proof for probation violation cases depends on the gravity of the allegation.
If the case involves a rule violation, the preponderance of the evidence standard is used. If the complaint is a law violation, then “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of evidence.
What Happens if You Violate the Terms of Probation?
A probation violation will almost always result in consequences that the probationer will face. However, the effects depend on the seriousness of the breach and the jurisdiction or state law.
The following are legal consequences probation violators face once proven guilty:
Probation Violation Consequence 1:
- The judge may order a revocation of probation and impose the original sentence.
Probation Violation Consequence 2:
- The judge may order the revocation of probation but impose the maximum penalty allowed by law on a particular offense.
Probation Violation Consequence 3:
- The judge may order an extension of the probation period.
Probation Violation Consequence 4:
- The judge may order the probationer to attend counseling (like anger management and alcohol or substance abuse counseling), especially with DUI (driving under the influence) cases while under probation.
Probation Violation Consequence 5:
- In states like California, the judge may order new or additional terms and conditions of probation.
Probation Violation Consequence 6:
- The judge may order additional terms like:
- The judge can impose community service as a condition of probation. The probationer must work with the community, a local charity organization, or a local government entity.
Probation Violation Consequence 7:
- The judge may order the probationer to undergo substance abuse treatment programs in drug cases. These programs will be part of the probation conditions that should be met.
Please note that the consequences mentioned above are based on the judge’s authority to revoke, modify, and change the order of suspension, according to California Penal Code 1203.3 PC. Other states may have different lists of consequences for probation violations.
The penalty for first-time offenders, even for probation violations, depends on the severity of the offense.
Other factors can determine penalties, such as whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony. Violations that are not severe can result in a warning.
Continuation of Probation on the Same Terms
There are instances where the judge will order a continuation of probation on the same terms. It means that despite the violation, the probationer will continue their probation terms as before with a stern warning from the judge.
Modification of Probation
A judge can modify the terms of probation depending on the state laws and regulations concerning probation violations. For example, the California Penal Code allows a judge to modify probation terms.
First-Time Low-Risk Violation of Probation
In cases where the probationer committed a low-risk violation, which is not a felony, the judge can order a modification to add penalties for the committed offense or allow the term to continue without changes.
Revocation of Probation
After considering all evidence put forward by the prosecution and after the hearing, the judge can order probation revocation if necessary.
The next thing that happens after a probation officer reports your violation of probation terms is a probation hearing. The prosecution will now present evidence that you have indeed committed the violation.
The judge doesn’t require the standard “beyond reasonable doubt,” in probation hearings. The prosecution only needs to successfully provide evidence showing a high likelihood that you have violated your probation terms.
Significant and Intentional
A probation violation must be significant and intentional. A probationer failing to do community service because their car broke down will usually not result in a violation.
However, the problem arises if the probationer intentionally avoids following the terms stated in their probation.
Courts can impose penalties after revocation or add penalties on top of the probation terms. However, the court orders penalties based on the severity of the violation and the state’s law regarding probation violation.
Does One Get “Time Served” if Probation Is Revoked?
States have different policies concerning time-served credit during revocation of probation. Texas court has two options when it orders a probation revocation.
One is that the court treats the case as if the defendant didn’t serve probation at all, resulting in serving the total jail time sentence. The second is that the court may order a shorter sentence allowed by law for the violation committed.
What Happens When Probation Is Revoked?
When probation is revoked, the privilege of serving one’s sentence outside jail is removed. The inmate on probation serves the entire jail time or as ordered by the judge.
What Kinds of Probation Violations Can Lead to Revocation?
State laws and the terms and conditions imposed by the judge determine what violation constitutes a revocation.
For example, North Carolina law considers the following violations of the terms of probation that could lead to revocation:
- Missing an appointment with a probation officer
- Missing a scheduled court hearing
- Not completing community services
- Failing to pay restitution or fines
- Visiting people and places without prior permission (e.g., gang members or places associated with criminal activity)
- Committing another felony or crime
- Not getting a job when compelled to do so
What’s A Probation Revocation Hearing?
A probation revocation hearing is a court trial involving the probation violator as a defendant. The defendant receives a notification detailing the hearing’s reason, time, and place.
Special Case: Committing a New Crime While on Probation
When one commits a new crime while under probation, the courts resolve the new charge through trial or plea bargain. The latest crime becomes the basis for probation or, in some cases, classifying the defendant as a violent felony offender with a criminal case.
Other Offenders’ Penalties
Probation is the law’s way of telling an offender that society isn’t giving up, hoping that through alternative punishment, one can recover from one’s misdeeds.
However, once a person commits another crime while on probation, the offender may have little to no option left but to return to prison.
States may vary on how probation violations are handled. However, once arrested for a new crime, a probation violator generally goes into a probation revocation hearing. If found guilty, the suspended jail or prison sentence will be imposed or resumed, and the penalties for the latest crime will be added.
Speak to an Attorney
When confronting problems like probation violations, it’s always best to have a criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate the complicated legal process.
An attorney-client relationship is crucial in these situations, as prompt and sound legal advice is needed to remain on top of any case while the proceeding continues.
There are many law firms that you can inquire about for a capable attorney. Some provide free consultations, which you can take advantage of when needed.
1. Parole and Probation
2. Felony law and legal definition
3. Are the Differences Between Parole and Probation Significant?
4. Standard Condition Language (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)
5. Probation Violations
6. Preponderance of the evidence