If you have recently appeared in court in Qld and have been granted probation or parole, it is essential you understand what this means, and abide by the conditions.
We share what the differences between probation and parole are, and answer some FAQs below.
What is Probation?
Section 92 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 defines probation.
When a person is found guilty of a crime, they may be given a community-based sentence in addition to, or in place of, a prison sentence. This is called probation.
This is often done for first time offenders, or people who would benefit from some supervised rehabilitation, and allows offenders to address their offending behaviour through case management with the Probation and Parole Service (PPS). Probation can be granted for a period as short as 6 months, or for a period as long as 3 years.
Probation may also come with additional rehabilitation and educational or employment services to aid in preventing the likelihood of you reoffending.
What are the Conditions of Probation?
If you are sentenced to a probation order, there are certain conditions you must adhere to.
Set out in section 93(1), these are that the offender must:
- commit no further offence during the period of the order;
- report to a Probation and Parole Service officer at the place and time directed
- receive visits from the officer as directed;
- participate in programs or counselling as directed;
- notify the officer of any change to their address or employment within two business days of the change;
- stay in Queensland, unless permission is granted to leave the state;
- comply with every reasonable direction of the officer.
If a judge or magistrate thinks it necessary, they may choose to impose further conditions in order to prevent them from committing further offences, such as psychological or medical treatment.
How Can I be Granted a Probation Order?
Not everyone is suitable for a probation order. It will only be an option for the courts in certain circumstances.
These circumstances include when the offender:
- Has limited or no prior criminal convictions or pending charges;
- Is likely to benefit from additional support to address their needs;
- Shows they are likely to change their behaviour;
- Will accept the conditions of the probation;
What Happens if I Breach Probation?
There are strict penalties the courts may impose if you breach your probation order.
A breach occurs if you commit another offence during your probation period, or you fail to comply with one of the conditions.
Your probation order will be cancelled, and you will face Court with penalties varying depending on the severity of the misconduct and the nature of the offence.
You may be given a fine, made to continue the order, or even resentenced for the original offence.
If you are resentenced for the original fine, you will have a conviction recorded.
What is Parole?
If you have been granted parole, it means you have been granted a conditional release from prison after serving a period of your sentence.
You will be supervised by the Probation & Parole Services (the Department of Community Safety – Corrective Services) while in the community until your parole sentence ends.
How Can I Be Granted Parole?
When considering whether you may be suitable for parole, the safety of the community is paramount.
The Parole Board will look into various factors in determining your suitability, including:
- if you have a criminal record;
- any convictions you might have for a prescribed sexual offence;
- any recommendations or comments the court has for your parole or sentence;
- whether you assisted authorities in convicting other offenders;
- your behaviour in prison;
- reports from medical professionals, or risk reports;
- any submissions made by victims to the parole board;
- previous compliance with any other community-based release or community service;
- if you will have access to appropriate services and support;
- any recommended rehabilitation programs or interventions.
What Happens if I Breach My Parole?
If you breach your parole order in Qld, or you are considered a serious risk of harm to others or yourself, the Parole Board may either suspend, amend or cancel your parole order, or you may be sent back to prison.
For a more in-depth look at parole types and parole breach penalties, you can read our blog here.
Have More Questions about Probation or Parole?
As you can see, the main differences between parole and probation is that parole is granted as part of a sentence after jail time has been served, while probation will often be before, or in place of a prison sentence. If you are facing criminal charges, or have breached your parole or probation order, it is vital you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our team at Guest Lawyers specialise in all criminal law matters such as parole breaches, pleas of guilty and not guilty, and advocacy for trials. For legal advice and representation, do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our contact form or on (07) 3236 0266.