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Probation and parole are two things you’ve likely heard of – at least on television and in movies. But these two terms are more than just something that’s a part of your favorite show. They’re also something that many people across Colorado have to deal with on a daily basis.

While probation and parole are alternatives to time in jail or prison, they can still be a threat to someone’s freedom. That’s because violating the terms of either of these things can imprison you for some or all of your original sentence.

Here’s what you need to know about the differences between probation and parole, as well as what you can face if you violate the terms of either of them in Colorado.

Probation and Parole: The Difference

Some use the two terms of probation and parole interchangeably, but they are two very different processes.


Probation in Colorado is defined as an alternative to a prison sentence. It allows the offender to show the court that they are able and willing to rehabilitate themselves while still being a part of the community.

A judge can issue probation for a person without any type of predetermined sentence, or they can be found guilty first and have their sentence in prison suspended. If the court deems that they meet the terms of their probation, then they can serve their term that way instead of in a prison cell.


A person is given parole after they have served some of their sentences in a correctional facility. The court determines that they are able to finish their sentence outside of the facility. Parole can be granted to someone if they display good behavior while in prison, or if their sentence requires them to serve some time on parole after they complete their prison sentence. Either way, it’s an extension of their sentence.


There are a few things that probation and parole have in common, mostly centered around what the defendant can and cannot do when they are on probation or parole. The history of the defendant will inform the specific terms of either, but in general, both probation and parole can include these types of stipulations:

  • Meeting with probation or parole officer regularly
  • Submitting to random drug testing
  • Abiding by rules surrounding curfews
  • Participating in and completing rehab programs for drugs and alcohol
  • Inability to travel outside the state without permission
  • Participating in counseling programs
  • Refraining from the commission of other criminal offenses
  • Being barred from certain people or places

Perhaps the biggest aspect these two things have in common is that, when they are violated, a person can be in serious trouble.

Denver Parole Violation Attorney

What Happens When Violated?

If someone violates their probation, then the judge reserves the right to modify the terms of their probation. That can mean just a warning, or it can mean the judge will extend their probation sentence, put additional terms in place, or simply send them to jail to complete their original sentence, if applicable.

For those on parole, it’s different. Violators will have to go in front of the parole board to answer questions and determine the consequences. These consequences can include a warning, additional terms of parole, or a revocation of their parole, which means they must return to prison.

Probation and parole violations can be very serious, so make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side to help.


About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.



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