Those who have a criminal record in Alabama may consider their options to stay out of jail or shorten a sentence. During such research, one is likely to hear of both probation and parole. What is the difference?

Per ThoughtCo., developing a firm understanding of both options helps save time and potentially a great deal of frustration.

Breaking down probation

Simply put, probation is for those who have a criminal conviction but have not served time behind bars. Rather than go to jail, the person may opt for probation instead. During such time, the person may either have to report to a supervisor or not have to report to anyone at all. There are also specific rules to follow under probation, such as paying fines, refraining from drug and alcohol use and physically staying away from certain individuals (such as those with a criminal past).

Breaking down parole

As for parole, the person has already spent some time in prison but has the option of serving time “outside.” One of the biggest differentiations between parole and probation is that parole is a type of entitlement because the person is already behind bars. There also exist specific conditions regarding parole that a parolee has to follow, such as reporting to a parole officer, holding down a job, passing drug and alcohol tests and remaining within a specific geographic area.

Whether a person receives the option of applying for parole depends on her or his conviction. Those convicted of arson, kidnapping or another violent crime are unlikely to qualify for parole. Besides criminal history, other factors that determine parole eligibility include the person’s age, marital status and psychological health.

No matter whether a person considers parole or probation, having proper legal information is essential. Working with the right experts and having access to the right sources goes a long way.