If you are on probation or parole in connection with a prior criminal case, you are required to conform to the laws of Pennsylvania and any additional terms set forth by the probation/parole department by which you are supervised. A violation of probation/parole (VOP) can be a serious issue and might get you a longer term of supervision from the judge or even land you back in prison.
First of all, it is important to understand the difference between probation and parole. In Pennsylvania, “probation” is generally an alternative or supplement to incarceration that allows someone convicted of a crime to remain in the community under varying degrees of supervision by a local probation officer.
Someone who violates probation may be sentenced to another full term of probation, regardless of how much time they have already served. For instance, if you are sentenced to 12 months’ probation and commit a VOP in month 11, the judge might restart the clock, giving you another 12 months’ probation.
In Pennsylvania, “parole” is the supervised, conditional release of a prisoner before their full incarceration term is set to expire. In the federal criminal justice system, the term “probation” usually means something closer to “parole” by Pennsylvania standards: it allows for the supervised, conditional release of a prisoner before their incarceration term is set to expire.
Someone who violates parole may be required to serve the rest of their original sentence in prison. For instance, if you are initially sentenced to 5-10 years of state prison, you may be paroled at the 5th year (minimum date). If you commit a VOP at the end of your 9th year, you risk being sent back to prison for the remainder of your sentence. However, only time you spent in prison counts toward your total sentence. “Street time” does not count. In this example, if you had a violation at the end of your 9th year, you risk being incarcerated for 5 more years (since you had already served 5 years of incarceration on a 10-year sentence).
The terms and conditions of probation and parole differ from case-to-case, county-to-county, and from person-to-person. If you have any questions about the terms of your release, check with your probation or parole officer or meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you.
If you believe you are being charged with a violation of your probation or parole, you may be at risk of a longer term of supervision or incarceration. Our team of attorneys has handled many VOP cases and will help to protect you from arbitrary and unnecessary additions to your sentence.