Parole Law and Legal Definition

Parole is defined in criminal law as the release of a convicted criminal defendant after serving a portion of their sentence, upon a finding that the person is sufficiently rehabilitated and not a threat to society. The parole period is defined as a certain length of time and is subject to conditions imposed by the releasing authority and to its supervision, including a term of supervised release.

Parole is not available to persons convicted of federal crimes, but most states still offer parole. Conditions of parole include, among other requirements, reporting to a parole officer, not associating with other ex-convicts, and staying out of trouble. Violation of the terms may result in revocation of parole and a return to prison to complete the unexpired sentence.

In Samson v. California, __ U.S. __, 126 S.Ct. 2193, 165 L.Ed.2d 250 (2006), the Supreme Court held that, with the possible exception of searches that are “arbitrary, capricious[,] or harassing”, the Fourth Amendment allows suspicionless searches of parolees if such searches are authorized by state law. While the search must be conducted at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner, the law does not require that parole officers have a reasonable suspicion of renewed criminal activity before they perform searches under the authority of a warrantless-search parole condition.