Probation and Parole

Probation and Parole


A person placed on probation or parole must comply with the general rules of supervision. You must comply with any special Court Order or conditions imposed by the Court at the time of your sentencing, or subsequently added during the course of supervision. A probation/parole officer will be assigned to your case, whose job it is to carry out the general order of Court.

Probation vs. Parole:
Probation – when a defendant is to be supervised by the Adult Probation Department and be bound by the department’s rules. Typically, a defendant must report to his probation officer, remain arrest free and submit to drug testing.
Parole – when a defendant is released from prison before the end of his or her maximum prison sentence. Once the defendant is released he or she will monitored by the county probation/parole department.

Probation/ Parole Violations and ‘Gagnon’ Hearings
When it is alleged that a defendant is in violation of his or her probation/parole, a Gagnon I hearing shall be held before a member of the Adult Probation staff . The following are common violations that can occur while a defendant is on probation or parole:

  • Getting Arrested
  • Not Reporting to your P.O.
  • Technical Violations
  • Use of Drugs
  • Use of Alcohol
  • Not Reporting a Change of Address or Change of Employment
  • Failure to Maintain Employment
  • Not Paying Restitution
  • Not Paying Fines and Costs

The ‘Gagnon’ hearing process is named after the United States Supreme Court Case of Gagnon v. Scarpelli in which the Court mandated a two step revocation procedure. The first step is the Gagnon I hearing. You are entitled to a Gagnon I hearing if you are in detention while awaiting your Gagnon II, or formal revocation hearing. The Gagnon I hearing is a pre-revocation hearing. At the Gagnon I hearing the adult probation officer must prove that probable cause exists to believe that a violation has been committed. However, the ‘probable cause standard’ is a low burden of proof for the probation officer. The purpose of this hearing is to protect against unlawful detention and serves as an additional safeguard for probationers or parolees. The Gagnon I hearing is informal and will be held before a hearing officer. The hearing will usually occur in the adult probation and parole office.

If probable cause is found at the Gagnon I hearing, the case will proceed to a Gagnon II hearing. This is the ultimate hearing that will determine if you have violated the conditions of probation or parole. The Gagnon II hearing will be scheduled before a Court of Common Pleas Judge in a courtroom. It is a more formal hearing. The first issue in a Gagnon II hearing is whether you violated one of the conditions of your probation or parole. You have the right to a hearing on this issue. The Commonwealth must prove the violation by a preponderance of the evidence – which means ‘more likely than not.’

If you have been found in violation of your probation or parole or admitted to the violation, you will be re-sentenced. Your probation officer will have already provided your attorney with a report stating what he or she recommends as a sentence. The judge is not required to follow the agreement but many times will. It is important to have an experienced attorney to protect your interests at this hearing, as the possible ramifications could include additional probation, parole or jail time.

The information contained herein is dedicated to providing public information regarding Family Law issues in Pennsylvania. None of the information on this site is intended to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of attorney client relationship. Please contact our law firm for information regarding your particular case. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.