What is the Difference Between Probation, Parole & a Pardon?

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 8-Jun-2015

Were you recently arrested for a criminal offense? If so, you will soon be learning about the differences between probation and parole. Not only are we going to explain the differences between the two, we are also going to explain how pardons work.

What is probation? With probation, adult offenders are released back into community by the court. These individuals are supervised through a probation agency, usually in lieu of incarceration.

Some jurisdictions do, however, have probationers combine a short-term period of incarceration, followed immediately by probation – this is referred to as a “split sentence.”

There are different levels of probation; for instance, sometimes a probationer is required to report regularly in person, by mail, or by telephone. Other times, probationers are excluded from reporting regularly. This often occurs when the offense was rather minor.

What is parole? Parole refers to when offenders are released from prison to serve out the remainder of their sentence in the community, with conditions. A prisoner may be released to parole because of a parole board’s decision, or because of provisions under a state statute (mandatory release or parole).

Much like probation, a parolee may be required to report regularly in person, by mail, or by phone. Other times, he or she may be required to report infrequently. Parolees are expected to complete certain conditions, and they must adhere to specific rules of conduct while they are released back into the community. If a parolee violates any of their conditions of parole, they may be sent back to prison.

What is a pardon? It is an action of an executive official such as a governor or the president that sets aside or mitigates the punishment for a crime. When an offender is granted a pardon, he or she is forgiven and their civil rights are restored. On the state level, the governor or a pardon board has the power to grant a pardon, and on the federal level, the president has the right to grant a pardon.

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