What Is the Difference Between Probation, Parole & Pardon?

When it comes to determining the differences between probation, parole, and pardon, it is important to understand the unique roles of each term. First, probation and parole are much more similar to each other than pardon are. While both probation and parole are used as an alternative to jail or prison time, pardons are given by higher government powers in order to wipe an offender’s record clean and free them from any remaining penalties. Though a pardon does have the power to free an offender from jail time, it goes a step further by clearing their name and criminal record, essentially freeing them from any mark of their crime.

What is the Difference Between Probation and Parole?

In many cases, the main difference between probation and parole is that probation is used prior to or instead of incarceration, which means the offender will simply spend time on probation right away, rather than going to jail at all. On the other hand, parole is the conditional release of inmates prior to completing their sentence. Therefore, parole is granted after an offender has served a certain percentage of their prison sentence.

Though they may spend a short sentence (such as a day or two) in jail, their main punishment will be served through probation. When a person is on probation, they must adhere to certain provisions and terms or else they will have to face the alternative of incarceration. If you have been accused of violating your probation, our experienced probation violation attorney at Damascus Road Law Group is ready to help.

These can include the following types of terms:

  • Performing community service
  • Enrolling in a rehabilitative program
  • Paying restitution to a victim
  • Taking frequent drug tests
  • Checking in with a probation officer
  • Maintaining a curfew

Probation is given directly by the court, while parole is given by the parole board after an offender has served a minimum sentence in jail. Parole is often given to individuals who have been on good behavior and are deemed safe to regenerate into society. The terms involved in parole can be very similar to the terms of probation. If a person on parole does not follow the specific terms, they could be required to go back to jail or prison. The point of both parole and probation is to help an offender break and avoid habits that could lead to future crimes.

What is the Purpose of a Pardon?

Pardons are focused on helping individuals clear their names from their alleged crimes, not just rehabilitate or merge back into society. It is typically granted by higher government powers, including the president or local governor. These powers must decide whether or not they believe pardoning the offender will be in the public’s best interests. A pardon will essentially wipe a criminal’s record clean and cancel any further penalties they are facing, allowing them to immediately rejoin society with no criminal past.

Have more questions about the alternatives to incarceration? Reach out to Damascus Road Law Group to discuss your legal concerns.

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