While some people may use the terms “parole” and “probation” interchangeably, they represent very different legal scenarios. Probation takes the place of going to prison; whereas parole is a conditional release from prison before you have served your entire term. Parole comes with terms and conditions that must be followed—and failure to abide by those conditions results in a parole violation that might send you back to prison.
What Kind of Conditions Does Parole Involve?
In most cases, you are eligible for parole when you have completed the minimum term of incarceration allowed required by your sentence. If the parole commission chooses to grant you parole, you are released from prison with a set of rules that you must follow. The rules vary from person to person, but there are some general conditions of parole that apply to all parolees. In Pennsylvania, these include requirements such as
- Obey all laws
- Inform the court if you move
- Maintain employment and inform the court if you change jobs
- Maintain contact with your parole officer
- Do not possess a firearm or weapon
- Make continuing payments on fines, restitution, and costs as imposed by the court
There may also be other conditions imposed by the parole commission that are specific to the type of crime for which you were imprisoned, such as refraining from the use of alcohol. You may also be subjected to warrantless search and seizure as well as random drug testing. Some parolees are required to attend anger management classes or be subject to curfews.
How Do You Violate Parole?
Breaking any of the conditions of your parole constitutes a violation of parole. A violation could be for committing a new crime or something technical such as moving out of the area without informing your parole officer. Such violations are taken very seriously by the parole commission.
What Happens When You Violate Parole?
Your parole cannot be revoked unless there is “probable cause” to believe you have violated the conditions of parole. You are considered innocent of any crimes or violations until guilt has been established. Under law, you have a right to a hearing, the right to defend yourself, and the right to hear the evidence that is presented against you.
The first step in a parole revocation is a preliminary hearing to determine if you did indeed violate the conditions of your parole. If you are not in custody, you will receive notice of when and where the preliminary hearing will take place. You should have sufficient time to prepare for the hearing and you are allowed to have an attorney at the hearing. The US Supreme Court has made sure that there are minimal due process requirements that all states must abide by when it comes to parole revocation hearings.
During the preliminary hearing, documentary evidence and witnesses may be presented, and you will be able to make statements and answer questions (although you are not required to by law). Either you or your lawyer will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses or object to evidence being presented by the parole officer. You or your lawyer may also present evidence and call witnesses on your behalf.
After the preliminary hearing takes place, the hearing officer will submit a report to the parole board. The parole board will decide whether to hold a violation hearing. Parole revocation hearings are very different from criminal or civil proceedings: there is no jury and usually no judge, and the people making recommendations regarding your parole are typically hearing officers or parole officers.
What Are the Penalties When You Violate Parole?
If found guilty of parole violation, the parole commission has several different options to choose from:
- A warrant may be issued for your arrest
- If your parole violation stemmed from a criminal offense, you may receive an additional criminal conviction
- A fine may be assessed if you committed a crime
- Your parole may be revoked, in which case you must return to prison to complete your sentence
- If you were up for early release, the length of your parole may be extended (but cannot go beyond your original sentence)
What happens to you depends on your risk level as a parolee, the type of violation involved, how compliant you have been, and your criminal history.
If you are accused of violating the conditions of your parole, the wisest course of action is to retain legal representation. The penalties associated with violating parole are serious even if you are not sent back to prison. A parole violation attorney can fight to make sure that your rights are upheld during both preliminary and final parole hearings by presenting evidence, calling witnesses, and presenting your side of the story to the parole board.
Contact Robert L. Schwarz Right Away!
If you or someone you care about is accused of a parole violation, contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Schwarz without delay. With experience as both a private criminal attorney and a former Delaware County Public Defender, I will make sure that your rights are aggressively defended during all phases of the parole violation process. Contact my office today!