What Are Probation and Parole in California?

Due to their similar natures, many people use the terms probation and parole interchangeably. In reality, both concepts are very different and grant separate benefits. However, there is one thing in common between probation and parole: both can be revoked if the person receiving the benefits does not comply with court-ordered terms and conditions.

If you or a loved one is at risk of having their probation or parole revoked in California, our parole and probation attorneys can help. To speak with a professional about your case in a free, private consultation, call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, today at (805) 643-5555.

Understanding Probation in California

Probation is a court-ordered sanction allowing a person to serve a sentence in the free community instead of going to jail. However, it is essential to understand that probations are tied to specific rules and regulations that must be followed at all times. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to severe consequences.

The first thing you should know about probation in California is that two main types of probation can be granted. The first type of probation is called “summary probation,” also called informal probation. The second type of probation that can be imposed is called “felony” or formal probation.

Informal probation can be granted in minor offenses cases. During informal probation, an individual can serve their sentence in the free community without the direct intervention of a state-designated probation officer.

On the other hand, felony probation is not as lenient as its informal counterpart. In more severe cases, a person can be granted felony probation, during which they can serve their sentence beyond the confines of a jail cell. However, unlike informal probation, felony probation requires the individual to answer to a state-designated probation officer.

If you do not follow all rules and conditions set forth by the court, your probation privileges may be revoked, and you could be sent to jail. Our probation lawyers can help you understand how probation works in California and how to avoid breaking the rules of your probation.

Understanding Parole in California

Parole refers to an early release from jail or prison under court-appointed supervision. The purpose behind parole is to help convicted felons reintegrate back into society by helping them look for things such as a job and proper residence. However, parolees need to meet specific requirements, or they risk having their parole privileges revoked.

Parole is not granted automatically. Eligibility for parole will depend on two main factors: the sentence imposed and the possibility of applying what is called “good time credit.”

A convicted felon can obtain either a determinate or indeterminate prison sentence depending on the crime committed. A determinate sentence is one where the imposed sentence is clearly stated, such as a 10-year term. On the other hand, an indeterminate term is one that indicates a number followed by the words “to life in prison.”

Usually, if you received a determinate sentence, you can apply for parole after serving past your minimum eligible parole date. For those serving life sentences, the determinate portion of their verdict must be satisfied to be eligible for parole. Those who serve life sentences may have to pass an additional hurdle to obtain parole: they must convince a parole board that they deserve such a benefit.

Conditions to Follow During Probation or Parole in California

If you have been granted probation or parole in California, your sentence is far from over. While you may have the benefit of being released from prison, you still need to comply with several conditions imposed by the court. Some of the requirements for probation and parole are:


  • Paying any existing fines, fees, or restitution
  • Participating in counseling sessions or other court-ordered treatment
  • Performing court-ordered community service
  • Refraining from using narcotics
  • Refraining from using alcohol
  • Maintaining employment
  • Maintaining ethical conduct within your community
  • Submitting to drug or alcohol screening procedures
  • Staying in the country while on probation


  • Random searches performed by police officers
  • Meeting with your parole officer when requested
  • Not owning or possessing firearms, ammunition, or other weapons
  • Not leaving California
  • Reporting any changes in employment, address, and other significant details that may affect your parole

The importance of complying with the terms and conditions on your probation or parole cannot be stressed enough. Failure to meet one of these requirements can be enough to have your probation or parole revoked. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand how the process works.

California Probation and Parole Attorneys Offering Free Consultations

If you or a loved one was sentenced to prison, you should know about the benefits of probation or parole. Our California parole and probation lawyers have extensive experience handling cases of all kinds. Thanks to our many years practicing criminal law, we can provide high-quality legal services to all of our clients. To discuss your case in a free, confidential consultation, call the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, today at (805) 643-5555.

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