Probation v. Parole

With the spotlight on the O.J. Simpson parole hearing, people have asked about the difference between probation and parole, often confusing the two terms.  Here is the basic difference:

Probation is when the sentencing judge retains jurisdiction of a case.  The judge puts an individual on probation instead of sending him or her to jail.  As long as the probation conditions are satisfied, the defendant avoids incarceration.  If there is a probation violation, the judge decides whether to keep the person on probation or to revoke their probation and send them to jail.

Parole is when an individual is sent to prison, but is released early.  This release decision is made by the parole board, not the sentencing judge.  Typical factors in granting parole might include the seriousness of the crime, age, criminal record, good behavior while incarcerated, etc.

Chad Gaddie is a criminal defense attorney who has practiced throughout Northwest Missouri for nearly 20 years.