Parole is a conditional release from prison before the end of your sentence term is completed. When you’re on parole, you’re still under sentencing but serving the time outside of confinement. Any violation of the terms of parole can result in your returning to jail.
It’s not unusual to hear people use the terms parole and probation interchangeably. It’s easy to get the two confused since there are similarities between the two processes. However, probation is an alternative to prison. Parole is in addition to prison.
How Is Parole Violated?
Unless the court has specified a minimum time for the you to serve, parole eligibility begins when you complete one-third of the sentence. If the Parole Commission decides to grant parole, you are given conditions of release you must comply with to remain out of prison.
Conditions of release often include general terms such as obey all law, and terms specific to your offense, such as don’t consume any alcohol. There are also more technical requirements, like promptly informing the court if you move or change jobs. Failing to comply with any condition of release can cause a parole violation. Whether the violation results in your returning to jail depends on the Parole Commission.
Penalties for a Parole Violation
If you are found guilty of a parole violation, the court has the option of imposing a variety of penalties. Factors including previous violations and the nature of the violation will be considered. Penalties can include:
What to Expect When Accused of a Parole Violation
A person on parole is still presumed innocent of any new crimes or violations until guilt is established. A parolee is entitled to a hearing on the alleged violation and right to a speedy trial on any new criminal charges.
Parole cannot be suspended or revoked unless there is “good cause” to believe that a person violated the terms of their parole. At a parole revocation hearing, there is no jury, and frequently no judge either. In fact, the parties making the recommendations regarding parole are frequently not even attorneys, but parole or hearing officers.
The U.S. Supreme Court established minimal due process requirements for parole revocation proceedings by which all states must abide. The burden of proof on the government is quite low and if the hearing is going to be contested, you can have witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Procedural Requirements of a Hearing
When a parole violation is alleged the first step in a parole revocation decision involves a factual question to determine if there is probable cause to believe that a parolee has in fact acted in violation a conditions of parole. The first step is commonly called a preliminary hearing. Here’s what you can expect:
If probable cause is established, a final hearing is held to determine whether the parolee violated a parole condition and if it warrants parole revocation. The hearing process operates like the preliminary hearing, except that the Parole Board decides by majority vote whether to continue or revoke parole.
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Parole Issue
A parole violation is serious business and could send you back to prison. If you’ve been charged with a parole violation, you have a right to a hearing to present evidence and witnesses in your defense. Legal counsel can play an important role at the hearing. Don't delay; call an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to better understand your rights and legal options.