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 parole violation 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?
The length of time you must serve in prison before becoming eligible for parole depends on the law of the particular state or jurisdiction. 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 abuse 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 various penalties. The choice will depend on the particular parole conditions you disobeyed and any previous violations. Penalties can include:
- Arrest Warrant: A warrant may be issued for your arrest.
- Revocation: Your parole may be revoked, and you may be returned to prison for the remainder of the original sentence.
- Increased Term of Parole: You may be ordered to spend additional time on parole. However, the length of parole cannot be extended beyond the term of your original sentence.
- Fines: In some circumstances, a fine may be imposed for a parole violation.
- Criminal Charges: If you commit a new crime while on parole, you will likely violate your parole and also be prosecuted for the additional crime.
What to Expect When Accused of a Parole Violation
A person on parole (known as a parolee) is entitled to a hearing on any alleged parole violation. Before parole can be suspended or revoked, there must be “good cause” to believe that the person violated the terms of parole.
The U.S. Supreme Court has established due process requirements for parole revocation proceedings that all states must abide. If the hearing is going to be contested, you can have witnesses testify on your behalf.
Procedural Requirements of a Hearing
When a parole violation is alleged, there is often a preliminary hearing. Here's a typical process:
- The hearing must be held within a reasonable time before a Parole Board hearing officer.
- If out of custody, a parolee is given written notice of the preliminary hearing and receives reasonable time to prepare a defense.
- Witnesses and documentary evidence may be presented, and witnesses cross-examined. The parolee can make statements and answer questions but is not required to do so.
- After the hearing, the hearing officer submits a written report to the Parole Board.
- The Board then decides whether to accept or overrule the hearing officer's findings.
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
Failure to comply with parole conditions is serious business and could result in being sent back to prison. If you’ve been charged with a parole violation, don't waste a moment before speaking with an experienced lawyer who knows the ropes and will fight for your rights. Contact a qualified criminal defense attorney near you today.