27 Nov 23

The Difference Between Probation and Parole in Long Island Criminal Cases

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 11:03 pm

The Difference Between Probation and Parole in Long Island Criminal Cases

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Long Island, New York, you may be wondering about the differences between probation and parole. Both allow an offender to serve their sentence in the community rather than in jail or prison; however, there are some key differences. This article will explain what probation and parole are, how they differ, and what it means for a defendant in a Long Island criminal case.

What is Probation?

Probation is a sentence imposed by a judge after a guilty plea or conviction that allows the offender to serve their sentence in the community under supervision. Probation allows offenders to avoid incarceration as long as they follow certain rules and check in regularly with a probation officer.

Judges have significant discretion in imposing probation and setting the length and terms. Probation periods typically range from 1-5 years but can be longer for more serious crimes. Common probation conditions include:

  • Remaining arrest-free
  • Maintaining employment
  • Undergoing counseling or treatment programs
  • Performing community service
  • Paying fines, fees, restitution

Defendants on probation must follow their probation officer’s instructions and receive permission for things like changing jobs or residences. Those who violate probation terms may face penalties like community service, counseling, brief jail stays, or in severe cases—probation revocation and incarceration.

What is Parole?

Unlike probation, parole is early release from prison to community supervision. It allows incarcerated individuals to serve part of their remaining sentence outside of prison if they demonstrate good behavior behind bars.

The parole board reviews inmate eligibility and decides when release to parole is appropriate. Factors considered include participation in rehabilitative programs, remorse, good conduct behind bars and posing a low risk to public safety. If granted parole, offenders finish their sentences in the community under supervision.

Parole periods equal the unfinished prison sentence time. Those on parole must comply with rules of release, like maintaining employment, undergoing counseling, meeting curfews, avoiding fraternization with other felons, and staying within geographic limits. Parolees who violate release terms face re-incarceration.

How Do Probation and Parole Differ?

While probation and parole have some similarities—like allowing offenders to serve sentences under supervision rather than incarcerated—some key differences include:

  • Probation is imposed by a judge as part of a sentence, while parole is granted by a parole board after a period of imprisonment.
  • Probation is an alternative to incarceration, while parole is early release from ongoing incarceration.
  • Probation periods are typically 1-5 years, while parole lasts only as long as the unfinished prison sentence.
  • Probation focuses on rehabilitation with strict rules, while parole emphasizes transition after demonstrating good prison behavior.
  • Violating probation can lead to incarceration, while violating parole generally leads to re-imprisonment to complete the sentence.

What Do Probation and Parole Mean for Long Island Defendants?

Most felony convictions in Long Island result in either probation or incarceration time with parole to follow. New York sentencing laws offer judges latitude in granting straight probation even for some Class E drug or property felonies. More serious violent felonies generally incur prison time.

Still, experienced Long Island defense attorneys can often negotiate probation in plea deals rather than years behind bars. And New York has several alternatives to incarceration programs that judges may assign instead of jail or prison. These rehabilitative sentences allow defendants to get counseling, treatment or vocational training while serving probation-type sentences.

For those incarcerated on Long Island felony convictions, parole provides incentive to demonstrate rehabilitation for early release. In New York, parole boards will generally release inmates after they serve their minimum sentences unless reasons exist to deny release.