Probation and Parole FAQs

Q. What is the difference between probation and parole?
A. Someone on probation has not served any time in jail on that sentence. A person on parole has served a portion of that sentence in jail. Usually there are no differences in the standard conditions of supervision governing probation or parole. The biggest difference occurs if the defendant violates his/her conditions. If you are on probation, your original sentence may be revoked and a new sentence imposed. If you are on parole you may have to return to prison to continue serving your original sentence.

Q. May someone on probation/parole or intermediate punishment have a firearm?
A. Defendants under active supervision may not have any weapons, including but not limited to, rifles, shotguns, or handguns on their person, in their residence, or in their vehicle. Additionally, if someone is convicted of a crime that could have carried a maximum penalty of more than 2 years, or involved a firearm or explosive, they are prohibited from owning or possessing any firearm(s) under the provisions of the Federal Gun Control Act Of 1968 and 1986.

Q. May someone on probation/parole or intermediate punishment leave the state?
A. Someone under active supervision may only leave Pennsylvania with a temporary travel permit issued by their probation officer. Offenders should request a travel permit well in advance of their anticipated departure date. Defendants who travel outside of Pennsylvania without a valid travel permit may be subject to arrest by any state they travel to.

Q. How does someone get on “state” probation or parole?
A. Generally speaking, a sentence in which the defendant receives a term of imprisonment of 1 year or more will be under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.