In South Carolina, the terms probation, parole and pardon are often referenced in criminal cases. Although each term relates to sentencing, they have very different meanings.


The Board of Paroles and Pardons can order parole, which allows an offender to be released from prison and complete part of his or her sentence in the community. Not every prisoner qualifies for parole. A prisoner who committed a “no parole offense” does not qualify for parole. Under South Carolina law, a “no parole offense” is defined as a class A, B or C felony or any other offense that is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years or more.


Probation is a process wherein a convicted person is allowed to remain in the community instead of being sent to jail. Probation is typically an option for non-violent first offenses. A probation officer supervises a probationer’s living arrangements and can limit what the probationer is allowed to do. An individual on probation must satisfy certain requirements in order to remain out of jail. In order to remain out of jail, a probationer must do the following:

  • Regularly meet with the probation officer;
  • Promptly pay all court fines, costs and supervision fees;
  • If the probation agent suspects the probationer of breaking the law, he or she must submit to a search of your person or property without a search warrant;
  • Stay employed in order to pay the required court and supervision costs as well as living expenses;
  • Submit to a drug test if the probation officer requests one;
  • Stay out of trouble and do not break the law;
  • Allow the probation officer to visit at any time;
  • Maintain a curfew in order to stay out of trouble; and
  • Follow all of the probation officer’s instruction and advice.


Pardon is the best option, as it does not require jail time or supervision. A pardon means that an individual is completely forgiven from all legal consequences of a crime and conviction. This includes all fines and penalties. Eligibility for a pardon depends on an individual’s situation.

  • Probationers: If all restitution has been completely paid, probationers can be considered for a pardon after receiving a discharge from supervision.
  • Parolees: If all restitution has been completely paid, parolees can be considered for a pardon after successfully finishing five years of supervision. However, if the maximum parole period is less than five years, then discharged parolees can be considered for a pardon after successfully completing the maximum parole period.
  • Individuals discharged from a sentence: If all restitution has been paid in full, discharged individuals may be pardoned any time after the discharge.
  • Inmates: Inmates must provide proof of extraordinary circumstances before becoming eligible for parole in order to receive a pardon. The inmate must also pay all restitution completely.
  • Inmates with a terminal illness: A terminally ill inmate may be considered for a pardon after becoming afflicted with an illness with a life expectancy of one year or less. The inmate must provide two doctor’s statements and pay all restitution in full.

Do you need help with a probation, parole or pardon legal matter? At De Bruin Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, experienced criminal law attorneys will make sure that you get the best legal representation. Contact De Bruin Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal law attorneys.

Aaron De Bruin

Aaron De Bruin is an Estate Planning and Criminal Defense attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Aaron fights for the rights of every one of his clients works hard to make sure they are treated fairly – no matter how small or large a legal case may be.