Violating Probation or Parole: Do You Know the Difference?

When people contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer for the first time, it’s usually because they have been arrested and charged with a crime. However, sometimes people are facing issues after already serving their time. Probation and parole are often very misunderstood concepts, and they come with different obligations.

Probation and parole are ways that a court can keep someone out of jail while still monitoring their behavior and exercising control over them. In a way, they are simply less intrusive and restrictive forms of corrective punishment than incarceration. The key distinction is probation is something a court orders before or instead of incarceration, while parole is something a court will order in order to supervise an offender after release from incarceration.

What is Probation?

Sometimes an offender shows some signs of being willing to rehabilitate, or perhaps they are a first-time offender. Under Section 6-220 of the Maryland Criminal Code, a person can be subject to “custodial confinement” (probation) when a court finds that it’s in the best interests of the public and the offender not to place him directly in jail, but rather, the offender would potentially benefit from staying in the community, paying fines, and working to improve. Usually, the terms of probation allow the person to avoid any jail term, provided they satisfy the terms of their probation.

Terms of probation usually include:

  • Plead guilty to the offense and agree to probation
  • Pay fines, court and attorney fees, and restitution to victims
  • Submit to drug and alcohol screenings
  • Submit to random and unannounced searches
  • Restricted to not leaving the state or county
  • May require rehabilitation for substance abuse
  • Possible prohibition from being in certain places (casinos, bars, near victims)
  • Any other restrictions a court may reasonably impose

Failure to meet all terms can be grounds for cancelling probation and returning the offender to a traditional prison sentence, as would have been allowed at the time of the original sentencing. A probation officer acts the same way as a correctional officer would if incarcerated, thus enforcing the terms of probation.

What is Parole?

Under Section 7-301 of the Maryland Criminal Code, parole is used as a form of graduated release back into the general community after being in prison. This often requires that the person live in a halfway house or avoid certain places, depending on the crime.

Once on parole, the offender is not technically free. Many of the same restrictions may apply as probation, except that the parolee now has likely already served the majority of a jail sentence. The debt to society is mostly paid. A parole officer – unlike a probation officer – is not enforcing an alternative to jail, he or she is merely making sure that the offender does not return to crime or become unable to meet obligations.

It is a way to get offenders out of jail sooner and back on the path to positive improvement and becoming productive workers in the community. However, violating parole will usually result in going back to jail to serve out the remainder of the original sentence. In some cases, additional time can be added.

Maryland Parole and Probation Violation Attorneys

If you are accused of a probation or parole violation, your freedom depends on getting a skilled lawyer involved. You’ve already worked hard to stay out of jail and rebuild your life. Don’t let that hard work go to waste. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. to schedule a consultation today. With offices in Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, we make it easy and convenient to get the help and advice you need.


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