If you or a loved one are considering taking a plea deal that includes prison time, understanding how parole works in Texas can be vital in assisting you in making that decision. Most felonies, with the exception of state jail felonies and some felonies prohibited by statute, are parole eligible offenses.
In Texas, there are two important dates.
The first date is the parole eligibility date. This is the date an inmate will first be eligible to be considered for parole. This date is calculated based on the type of offense and any underlying considerations that could affect the parole eligibility date. Offenses with a deadly weapon finding and offenses that are listed in the statute require an inmate to serve fifty percent of the sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole. For most other offenses, inmates will become eligible in a much shorter time period. One important exception is offenses with a drug-free zone finding. Those offenses require a minimum of five years to be served (day for day) before becoming eligible for parole.
The second important date is the mandatory supervision release date. This date is calculated by adding good time credit to time served. When good time credit and time served equals the total sentence, the inmate is eligible for mandatory supervision. Earned good time can be taken away from an inmate for disciplinary infractions. Offenses with a deadly weapon finding and those listed in the statute are ineligible for mandatory supervision. Most others will be eligible.
While the term is mandatory supervision, an inmate can be denied release on that date for a variety of reasons. If mandatory supervision is going to be denied, findings must be provided in writing and a new hearing date will be set.
A first parole hearing can come quickly in Texas. For example, on a 10-year sentence, an inmate becomes eligible for parole after serving 1 year, 2 months, and 8 days on most offenses. This includes any time credited while the inmate was in jail awaiting trial or in the county jail awaiting transfer to prison.
There are certain key elements of rehabilitation that the parole board is looking at when deciding whether someone should be released into the community. One of the most important is support in the community. The inmate needs some place to go, and a supportive family environment that will help to keep the inmate abiding by the laws and rules of probation will be looked upon favorably by the parole board. The board also looks at how the inmate has attempted to improve his situation while in prison and whether the inmate has stayed out of trouble while in prison.
An inmate does not have to do anything to be considered for parole, but a parole packet should be prepared in order to highlight the positive elements of an inmate’s character and history and point out to the board exactly where the inmate is going, which will hopefully be towards becoming a productive and law-abiding member of society.
There is no parole board panel that an inmate goes in front of to plead why an inmate should be released to the community. Instead, parole in Texas is handled primarily through paper. An attorney can request that a parole board voter, that is a person who will be voting on whether an inmate be released into the community, entertain an in-person visit or have a telephone conversation with the attorney, and can also request that the parole board voter meet with the inmate or the inmate’s family. Depending on the other factors in an inmate’s favor, the parole board may refuse those meetings, particularly if the inmate has numerous recent major disciplinary issues.
At The Law Office of Krause & Dailey, our attorneys can assist in preparing a parole packet and advocate on the inmate’s behalf with the parole board when appropriate. Call today to talk about your case.
Parole Revocation Hearings
A person who has been released on parole can face revocation for a number of reasons. The person may commit a new offense or violate conditions of parole. The person’s parole officer would submit a Violation Report and, based upon certain conditions, a warrant might issue. These “blue warrants” require that a person be held in county jail until a revocation proceeding takes place. There is typically no bond allowed on “blue warrants.”
If violations are purely technical in nature, that is, a person has not committed a new offense, there may be a preliminary hearing in order to determine if it is necessary to proceed to revocation. It will proceed to a revocation proceeding if the hearing officer determines there is probable cause to believe that the person has violated a condition of parole.
Once a case has moved to the probation revocation hearing proceeding, the inmate (and attorney) will receive discovery, including all evidence that the state will present to prove the violation. A hearing officer will make a recommendation based upon the evidence gathered and arguments made during a probation revocation hearing to the parole board as to whether a parolee should be revoked and sent back to prison.
The burden in a parole revocation proceeding that the state has to prove is significantly lower than the burden in a criminal trial. In a criminal proceeding, the burden is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a parole revocation hearing, the state must only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation has been committed. That means that a person may have a criminal charge dismissed against them by the state for inadequate proof only to end up back in prison because the hearing officer found by a preponderance of the evidence that the crime did occur.
At The Law Office of Krause & Dailey, our attorneys will provide representation at a parole revocation hearing and advocate on behalf of the parolee. Contact us today to discuss your case.