The difference between probation and parole is enormous, although some people use the terms interchangeably. (Journalists often have an unfortunate habit of falling into that category.)

While there’s more to it than this, the short version is: probation means the judge orders someone to report to some form of supervision immediately, and if they don’t follow a fairly lengthy set of rules and regulations they are subjected to going to jail or prison. Parole is a form of supervision granted to defendants, either after their full prison sentence is complete, or, as in Texas, in lieu of finishing their entire sentence.

Again, probation: supervision as the penalty itself; and parole: a period of supervised release after being incarcerated.

  • Keith

    can a person in TEXAS be sentenced to a probation longer than the maximum length of jail time for a specific offense? in other words…a state jail felony has a maximum limit of 2 years in stae jail. if convicted, and the sentence is 2 years state jail, but the sentence is suspended and the convicted receives probation, can that probation (in texas) be any longer than the 2 years?

  • Joel Whyms

    Is it possible to get off probation early if you pay off all your fines and have done half the sentence?