Probation and parole are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two very different situations here in Illinois. We believe it’s important that our clients and anyone who may find themselves facing criminal charges know the distinction between parole and probation, so we’re going to explain how Illinois views each in today’s blog.
Probation In Illinois
First, let’s look at probation. Probation is its own form of sentencing, which can’t be said for parole, but more on that later. Probation is the most common sentencing tool in America, and it essentially functions br providing rules that an offender must follow in order to avoid a harsher sentence. For example, if you consumed alcohol and then started a fight in a bar, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of a jail sentence.
The terms of probation vary based on the individual and the charges. In the above example, the offender may be required to remain sober for six months, avoid bars or establishments that serve alcohol during that time frame, and attend alcohol and anger management counseling. If that person abides by the rules set in their probation, they can avoid jail and may even have the charge reduced or dropped altogether.
Other common probations conditions include:
- Attending a victim impact panel
- Avoiding contact with a certain individual or family
- Avoiding certain places like schools or businesses
- Regular drug testing
- Completion of rehabilitation
If an offender fails to comply with all the rules set forth in their probation, they will be forced to appear in front of a judge. The judge may choose to revoke probation and institute a harsher sentence like jail, or they may extend the length of the current probation. Many individuals do not get a second chance at probation, so if you step out of line, expect big consequences.
Parole In Illinois
While probation is often used in lieu of jail time, parole is linked to a person’s time in jail. Parole is a condition that allows a person to serve the remainder of their jail sentence in the community under supervision. For example, if you were sentenced to a felony drug charge and received a five-year sentence, you may be released after two years if you’ve shown good behavior in jail and can prove to the parole board that early release is appropriate.
If you are granted parole by the parole board, you will have to follow certain conditions set forth by the board. Your parole conditions will be monitored regularly by a parole officer, and one slip up can send you right back to jail for the remainder of your sentence, so again, compliance is key.
The conditions set forth in a parole agreement are slightly different than what you might receive in probation, because the goal of parole is to help someone successfully reintegrate back into society. Because of this, some of the more common conditions of parole may include:
- Finding and maintaining employment
- Making regular payments on outstanding fines
- Staying in the state
- Finding housing or staying in a halfway house
- Staying out of future legal trouble
Again, the conditions will be based on the individual, the crime they committed and how the court believes they can best be reintroduced to normal life. So as you can see, although probation and parole are handed down as a result of a guilty finding, probation occurs at sentencing, whereas parole is granted after a jail sentence has begun.
For questions about either condition, or for help with your criminal law case so you can beat the charges and avoid probation or parole, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Appelman & Lloyd today.