Maryland residents who have been charged with a crime may be wondering about the definition of two important legal terms: probation and parole. Criminal defense attorneys know that these two concepts are very different, even though they both feature a form of supervised release. Understanding probation and parole rules can help you and your attorney identify the best strategies for defending your criminal case.
Probation and parole may sound the same, but there are striking differences between these two programs. Probation is considered part of a criminal sentence. That is, when someone is sentenced in connection with a minor crime, he or she may be required to comply with some supervised release regulations. Probation is generally reserved for nonviolent, first-time offenders. These defendants are sentenced to suspended jail terms that will not be served unless the person violates the terms of probation. In general, these terms include checking in with a probation officer, along with attending drug and alcohol classes or other educational events.