Yes, absolutely, you can be on both parole and probation at the same time.
In the post that follows, we’ll explain the difference between parole and probation, and then explain how a person could be on both at the same time.
Can You Be On Parole And Probation At The Same Time? (EXPLAINED)
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What Is Parole?
Parole is a term used to describe part of a person’s ordered jail time that is spent in the community, rather than within the walls of the prison.
For example, let’s say a person has been ordered to serve ten years of prison time.
After seven years, they are “granted parole.”
They will serve the remaining three years of the ten year prison sentence out in the community, working, attending school, or doing other tasks as ordered by the Parole Officer.
In general, parole is associated with “prison” (usually for more serious crimes or for federal crimes).
Generally, there is no option to be sentenced to “parole” without some term of prison going with it.
There is no guarantee that parole will be granted during the term of imprisonment, and the defendant usually has to apply for it after meeting the requirements for parole.
Parole vs Post-Prison Supervision
Parole should not be confused with post-prison supervision.
Post-prison supervision is not terribly different from parole as far as what the defendant would need to do or having a supervisor.
What’s different is that parole is a substitute for prison time, and post-prison supervision is a term ordered after the conclusion of prison and/or parole.
The term of post-prison supervision is ordered at the time of sentencing, along with the amount of prison time.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a punishment, like jail or prison.
But instead of having to spend time cooped up in a cell, the defendant is free to be out in the world, under the supervision of either a judge or a probation officer.
It is usually used as an “alternative” to jail time.
The defendant might have to perform community service, go to school, work, get drug tested, or do many other tasks as ordered by the court or the supervisor.
In most cases, the defendant is sentenced to probation rather than having to do any jail time at all, though sometimes you might see a combined jail and probationary sentence.
In many cases, you see the term “probation” associated with lower courts, misdemeanors, and “jail,” while “parole ” is associated with “prison” and the more serious offenses.
Parole vs Probation (Confusing)
Probation should not be confused with parole.
Remember, parole is a substitute for prison….the ultimate amount of prison time ordered doesn’t change, just where the defendant serves it.
Parole is prison time being supervised in and by the community rather than guards, if that makes sense.
Probation is not a substitute for jail time, so if a person is let out of jail early for whatever reason, the amount of probation ordered in the judgment will be the same as ordered, regardless of how much jail is ordered.
Think of it like this:
Prison Time —> Parole To Finish Prison Time —-> Term of Post Prison Supervision
Jail Time —> Probation
Just Probation (No Jail)
How Can One Be On Parole And Probation At The Same Time?
The most likely scenario to be on both parole and probation at the same time is when there are multiple cases involving one defendant.
These cases may be associated with one incident, or they may be separate and apart.
The cases could be in the same court (city, county, state, federal) or in different courts.
For example, let’s say that a person commits a theft offense in a major city, involving the internet.
The State could prosecute him for felony offenses involving the theft, and sentence him to a term of jail and/or probation.
Then, while the defendant was on probation for the theft case, the federal prosecutor could then prosecute him for federal crimes involving the same acts.
While on probation, he could go to federal prison, and then be released on parole, while still on probation.
This is the most likely scenario that we’ll see parole and probation at the same time.
Getting Into More Trouble On Parole or Probation
One of the rules or requirements of probation, parole, or post-prison supervision is that the defendant needs to stay out of trouble, and avoid further criminal activity.
While previously committed acts might not harm the probation or parole as they work their way through the system, new bad acts can definitely cause the end of the probation/parole.
If someone re-offends or otherwise violates the terms of probation/parole, probation and/or parole will likely be terminated, and the defendant is likely to be sentenced to an additional term of imprisonment.
In some cases, the judge may reinstate probation or parole after hearing the circumstances of the violation.
But in general it is a good goal to avoid new cases or bad behavior while on probation or parole (or both).
It is fairly common for defense attorneys and defendants to resolve cases (take plea deals) to avoid probation violations and additional jail/prison time in other cases to reduce the overall exposure to jail time by taking the case to trial.
It’s a good idea to tell the defense attorney about all the cases (old, new, and soon to be filed if they are in other courts/locations) to avoid an unexpected termination of probation.
Sometimes a global deal can be brokered.
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