When serving jail time, you may be eligible for parole, allowing you to get out early. This can be a great relief, but parole comes with a lot of conditions. For months or years, you will need to check in with your parole officer, be open for random searches and drug tests, and face limits on where you can go. Violating the terms of your parole can land you back in jail to serve out the remainder of your original sentence.
Even a minor violation can put you at risk of re-imprisonment. If you have a parole violation hearing, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer for legal advice.
Any parole violation may lead to a warning, increased restrictions, or revocation of your parole, sending you back to jail. Some of the most common parole violations include:
Some of the more common offenses that lead to parole violations include drug crimes and substance abuse charges. If you are dealing with substance abuse and addiction, release to the same environment can expose you to the same problems. Substance abuse or alcohol may lead to a failed drug test, missing a test because the parolee knows they will likely fail, or committing a new crime to get money.
One of the biggest problems for individuals released on parole is that a very minor violation can be enough to send them back to jail. Sending you back to prison for a technical offense can cost taxpayers and erase the progress you made in trying to get your life back on track. This is one reason it is important to have good legal representation even for minor violations. Minor violations may include:
There are innocent reasons why a parolee could violate parole. Many individuals have to rely on public transportation, and missing the bus, traffic, or a change in service routes could result in being too late for an appointment for missing curfew. Failing a drug or alcohol test may have been due to a contaminated test, a false positive, or medication or food that showed a positive result. Minor violations should not result in sending you back to prison after you started to get your life back together.
The parole board or courts can take back parole after granting it. That means returning to prison to continue your sentence. The parole officer may make the initial decision after a violation to refer you for a preliminary hearing. If the board finds probable cause that you violated the terms, you will have a parole revocation hearing.
Under due process, you are eligible to have legal representation at a parole revocation hearing. Your lawyer can represent you at the hearing before the parole board. Your attorney may challenge the evidence to show doubt that there was a violation, or provide a reasonable cause for the violation that was unavoidable or innocent. After hearing the evidence and testimony, the parole board can decide to:
If the parole board revokes parole, you may still be able to file an appeal. There may be limited grounds to file an appeal, so talk to your criminal defense attorney for help.
If you are concerned about the terms of your parole, you may be able to petition the court to change the terms. The court may be more willing to relax the restrictions after you serve a certain amount of your parole without any problems. You may also be able to get permission from your parole officer or the court to travel outside the state.
If your parole officer claims you are violating your parole conditions, it’s important to consult with an attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. Do not count on being able to talk your way out of a violation. It is important to have an advocate who knows how this process works in your corner to protect your rights and best interests.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local sentencing attorney who can protect your rights and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense.