After you served a year in prison, you were sure the toughest time of your life was over. You have a job and you report to your parole officer regularly, but you still feel like you’re constantly one step away from going back to jail. Is there any way to shorten the time you will spend on probation or parole after a crime?
Factors Affecting How Long Your Probation or Parole May Last
While there are major differences between parole and probation, they are both ways of serving time under supervision in a normal environment (rather than serving the time in an institution). If a judge decides that you are guilty but will not serve any jail time, you may be placed on probation. Your sentence is suspended as long as you adhere to a strict set of rules; if you violate these rules, your jail sentence will be reactivated and you may be sent to prison.
Probation can last anywhere from six months to ten years, depending on your:
- Offense. Generally speaking, the greater the offense you have committed, the longer your probation will last. A misdemeanor crime may carry a probation term of up to a year, while low-level felonies may incur three to five years on probation. In cases where assault or other serious felonies have been committed, defendants will often receive the maximum period of probation.
- Performance while on probation. Unlike parolees, defendants who are on probation can petition the court to terminate their probation early. If a defendant has completed all of his community service requirements, paid all fines and damages, and has completed all of the court-ordered requirements in the case, he may petition the court for early discharge. On the other hand, a violation of probation can extend your probation even further or send you to jail to complete the rest of your sentence.
The length of a defendant’s parole is determined in much the same way as probation, with some notable differences:
- Length of your sentence. How long you are on parole depends on the length of your original sentence. By law, you cannot be on parole longer than the sentence period you were court-ordered to serve. For instance, if you were sentenced to five years but were paroled after two, your parole cannot last longer than three years. However, if you are paroled after a life sentence, you will likely be on parole for the rest of your life.
- Violation of parole. Unlike probation, violation of parole will mean a return to jail unless the defendant can give good reason for violation. For example, if a defendant fails to keep a scheduled meeting with his parole officer, he must have a reasonable excuse, such as a severe illness or a family emergency. In most cases, parole will only be terminated early if the parolee is sent back to jail.
If someone you love is facing arrest for a parole violation, we can help. Contact the Easley Law Firm today to find out more, or start preparing for your case with our free guide, The Criminal Legal Process In Virginia.