Probation and Parole

Easily Misunderstood Concepts

Formal Probation                        

Probation is not a "sentence" in that it is not strictly a final judgment. It is a program in lieu of a final sentence. As such, an individual in any of the three circumstances below may be placed on probation, if the court believes that is appropriate.

Informal Probation                      

When an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor, they are sometimes placed on what is known as "court" or "summary" probation. The court may impose conditions, such as fines or work hours. The probation department is not involved in enforcing those conditions. They do not report to probation officers.


Individuals who serve a term in a state prison and are supervised by a state parole officer upon release.


A new classification wherein individuals serve a term in a state prison and are supervised by county probation officers upon release.

PRCS = Post Release Community Supervision

Local Prison                                  

A new classification wherein the defendant serves a "prison term" in a county jail. Although this is generally served locally in a county jail, it still counts as a "prior prison term" in all respects. In some circumstances, they will be supervised by probation upon release from custody. This is called "mandatory supervision."


  • The defendant is sentenced to a life term
  • The defendant sentenced to prison with two or more "strikes"
  • The defendant is classified as a high risk sex offender
  • The commitment offense is on the list of "violent felonies"
  • The commitment offense is on the list of "serious felonies"

Changes to Parole:

  • Parole violations are now heard by local court instead of parole board
  • Most parole violations are now served in county jail instead of state prison

The term "violent" and "serious" felonies are easily misunderstood. There are some crimes that sound or feel like they should belong, but don't. They have to be specifically listed in order to qualify. Some examples are listed below. The full list can be found in the section quoted.

 Violent Felonies (667.5 PC)                                           

  • Murder, Mayhem
  • Certain sex crimes by force
  • Lewd acts on child under 14
  • Inflicting great bodily injury
  • Any felony with a firearm
  • Certain types of arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Residential burglary with another person present at time

Serious Felonies (1170.12 PC)

  • Any felony with dangerous weapon
  • Residential burglary
  • Arson not classified as violent
  • Grand theft of a firearm
  • Criminal threats
  • Assault with a deadly weapon on:

                    -  Peace Officer

                    -  Firefighter

                    -  School employee

Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS)

  • Defendant has a prior conviction for violent/serious felony, but the commitment offense is not violent/serious (one prior strike)
  • Defendant is a registered sex offender, regardless of current offense type
  • Defendant is convicted of one of a long list of felonies that are not specified as violent, serious or as a local prison term. Common examples are listed below. Note that some of these can rise to serious or violent felonies if there are deadly weapons or serious injuries involved.
  • Felony child abuse
  • Felony domestic violence
  • Elder Abuse
  • Vehicular hit and run with injury
  • Felony DUI with injury
  • 2nd felony DUI within 10 years
  • Stalking 
  • Brandishing a weapon at a peace officer
  • Escape from custody
  • Evading a peace officer
  • Using minor to buy/sell drugs
  • PRCS conditions are similar to probation conditions
  • Violations of supervision are heard by the court
  • Any time imposed as a violation of supervision is served in a local jail

Local Prison Term

In some instances, a "prison term" is now served in a county jail. Note that because of Sierra County's small population, in some circumstances individuals who fall under this category can still be housed in the state prison on a contractual basis. This does not make them parolees upon release from custody. Their status as one of the two categories below remains unchanged.

Straight Sentence:  The defendant serves their complete term. Once the term is completed, they are released without supervision (no probation, no parole).

Split Sentence:  The defendant serves part of their term in jail and part of it is suspended. During the suspended portion of their term, they are subject to "mandatory supervision" under the jurisdiction of the probation department. The conditions are similar to probation conditions.

  • Violations of supervision are heard by the court
  • Any time imposed as violation of supervision is served in a local jail

A few common examples of this category are listed below:

  • Most drug offenses
  • First felony DUI without injury
  • Welfare Fraud
  • Non-residential burglary
  • Grand theft
  • Vandalism