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What is the difference between probation and parole?

When it comes to criminal charges and penalties in Louisiana, many people are confused by certain terms. Two terms that are common to misunderstand are probation and parole. If you or someone you care about is having legal trouble, you may come across both terms. It can be helpful to understand what each means and how they are different.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, if you have been sentenced to serve time in prison after you are released, you may be put on parole. You may be required to report to a parole officer and follow certain conditions, such as securing employment, not using drugs and maintaining a curfew. 

If you are facing criminal charges, the judge has options in the sentence he or she may hand down. One of those options is probation. This is when you are put under the supervision of an agency. The extent of your supervision is decided by the judge. You may have to report to see a probation officer, who will watch over you and ensure you do not get into any trouble. You may also have restrictions placed on you, such as a curfew. In some cases, if your charge was minor, you may not have to report at all and will only see a probation officer if you get into further trouble. You may also have certain conditions that you must meet, such as paying fines, before your probation ends. 

With either parole or probation, if you break the rules or do not adhere to the conditions, then you could be put in jail. This information is for education and is not legal advice. 

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