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How is Supervised Release Different from Probation and Parole?

Probation v Parole

If you are facing federal charges, or if you have recently been convicted of a federal criminal offense, it is important to understand the differences among supervised release, probation, and parole. While supervised release and parole are terms that refer to post-incarceration supervision, federal probation can be sentenced as an alternative to incarceration in a federal prison. How can these terms apply to your case, or to the criminal case of a family member or loved one? Our Dallas criminal defense lawyers can explain in more detail.

Post-Incarceration Supervision

Supervised release and parole are both forms of post-incarceration supervision, as we noted above, but they are not the same thing and have important distinctions. To be clear, supervised release and parole are not sentenced in lieu of prison time, but rather occur after a period of imprisonment has been completed as part of a criminal sentence. When it comes to post-incarceration supervision after serving a period of prison time for a federal criminal conviction, what are the differences between supervised release and parole?

To understand what is involved in supervised release, it is important to understand how parole works in the federal system. Generally speaking, parole is a type of early release, often granted based on a defendant’s behavior during a term of imprisonment. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), federal prisoners who are eligible for parole can apply after a specific amount of his or her prison sentence has been served, based on the terms of the sentence. The DOJ clarifies that “prisoners who apply for parole are provided with a parole release decision based upon the appropriate paroling release guidelines.” If parole is granted, the person must report to a Parole Office for post-release supervision for the period of time specified by the Parole Commission.

Supervised release, unlike parole, is not a type of early release, and it does not occur in exchange for remaining prison time. Instead, it is the time after a person completes the terms of a prison sentence that must be spent under supervision. It is sometimes known as special parole or mandatory parole.

Probation in Lieu of Prison Time

Probation, unlike parole and supervised release, can be sentenced instead of prison time. A person who has been sentenced to a period of probation must report to a Probation Officer (much as a person on parole or supervised release must report). Yet if the person completes the terms of the probation, she or he typically will not serve time in jail or prison. In the event of a probation violation, however, the court can impose a steeper sentence that may include a term of imprisonment.


Contact a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Dallas

If you have any questions about supervised release, parole, or probation, or if you need assistance defending against a violation, one of our experienced Dallas federal criminal defense attorneys can speak with you today about your circumstances. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for help. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC today for more information.