The Difference Between Probation and Parole

Criminal Defense Attorney 317-636-7514

Criminal Defense Attorney 317-636-7514

Although probation and parole are similar to one another because they are both alternatives to incarceration, they are quite different in detail. The primary difference between the two, which we’ll discuss further later on, is that probation often takes the place of jail time, whereas parole occurs after a person’s early release from prison. But they are also similar in the fact that they both subject an offender to temporary legal supervision and obligate them to follow a set of strict rules.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between probation and parole.


After a person is found guilty of a criminal charge, they are sentenced to certain legal penalties. These penalties often include jail time, fines, community service, impact panels, substance abuse classes, and more. Depending on the severity of the crime and the person’s criminal history, a judge may grant probation in place of jail time. Probation is a temporary period of legal supervision, often managed by a jointed probation agency, which allows offenders to show the court they wish to repent and rehabilitate after their conviction.

Criminal Defense Law Firm 317-636-7514

Criminal Defense Law Firm 317-636-7514

During this time, offenders are legally obligated to follow a list of rules, called probation conditions, which include retaining employment, staying in the state, refraining from drugs and alcohol, obeying all laws, surrendering to routine drug screens, and more. Those on probation are managed by a probation officer, and subject to random warrantless searches and drug tests without probable cause.

Probation is generally set for a temporary period of time, but can be extended if the offender fails to follow all rules and requirements. The length of probation can be anywhere from 1 to 10 years, depending on the individual circumstances. In order to satisfy all probation conditions, the offender must pay all fines, restitution fees, and court costs, as well as, complete all court-ordered classes, community service, or rehabs. So long as the person follows all rules and completes all requirements, they are relieved of probation at the end of their sentenced term.


Parole occurs after an offender is released from jail. Parole comes with the same set of rules and requirements as probation, called conditions of parole. Offenders report to a parole officer on a regular scheduled basis, and subject to all the same conditions of a person on probation. If an offender fails to comply with these conditions, the parole officer will file a report with the parole board, who will then rule as to whether or not the person should go back to jail or sentenced to stricter parole conditions.

Indianapolis Criminal Defense

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal Defense Lawyer 317-636-7514

Call David E. Lewis, Attorney at Law at 317-636-7514 if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime in Indiana. He is an aggressive and powerful Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer that retains extensive trial and litigation experience in criminal law. Call 317-636-7514 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the best strategy for your defense.