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When Are You Eligible for Parole in Texas?

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

When Are You Eligible for Parole in Texas?

If you have questions about when you’re eligible for parole in Texas, the short answer is it depends on the offense you committed and the laws that were in effect when the offense was committed.

An individual held in custody receives credit for his or her time in custody toward the parole eligibility date. For instance, if you were held in custody six months before receiving a 10-year prison sentence, you may be eligible for parole in most cases in one year, two months and eight days. The six months you were in custody is typically subtracted from the established parole eligibility date (of about eight months from the sentencing date).

Are you wondering if you or someone you love is eligible for parole?
Contact experienced parole attorney Greg Tsioros today for a consultation 

What is Parole in Texas?

Parole is considered the discretionary release of an individual from prison by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Parole enables the parolee to serve out the remainder of his or her prison sentence under community supervision. During parole, the parolee begins the task of integrating himself or herself into the community.

The inmate seeking parole must understand the strict guidelines and requirements to be followed. A knowledgeable Texas parole attorney can maximize your chances of obtaining parole.

3g and Non-3g Offenses

In most third, second, and first-degree felony cases, the inmate becomes parole-eligible after serving 25 percent of his or her sentence.

However, certain “3g offenses” demand the inmate serve at least 50 percent of the calendar sentence before parole-eligibility is possible.

Parole isn’t automatic. The inmate becomes eligible to request parole after a certain time period. In some situations, the offender is never eligible for parole.

Definition of a 3g Offense

A “3g offense” refers to Section 3G of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

According to Texas Government Code Section 508.149, an individual convicted of certain crimes, such as 1) aggravated assault (offender must serve at least two years—any time greater than two years is calculated at the ‘1/2’ rule); 2) aggravated sexual assault; 3) aggravated robbery; 4) aggravated kidnapping; 5) use of a child in the commission of a drug offense; 6) first-degree felony injury of child (resulting in a serious bodily injury); 7) sexual performance by a child; 8) compelling prostitution; 9) trafficking of persons; 10) continuous trafficking of persons; 11) engaging in organized criminal activity/activities; 12) directing activities of criminal street gangs; 13) sexual assault with a child; 14) indecency with a child; 15) sexual assault of a child; 16) first-degree criminal solicitation; 17) affirmative finding of a deadly weapon; 18) offenses involving affirmative finding of a deadly weapon; 19) first-degree burglary of habitation (with intent to commit certain sexual offenses); 20) intoxicate manslaughter; 21) murder; or 22) capital murder, may not receive probation.

Parole eligibility for the 3g offender is always based on the calendar sentence:

  • The 3g offender isn’t eligible for mandatory supervision.
  • If the 3g offender committed the crime on/after September 1, 1993, he or she must serve at least 50 percent of the sentence before becoming parole-eligible.

An individual serving a sentence for a 3g offense isn’t eligible for parole in any event before he or she has served at least two years behind bars. This requirement is much more severe than parole laws for those serving time for non-3g offenses. Good time credits don’t count for the 3g offender.

When Offenders May Become Eligible for Parole

Inmates serving under the sentence of death, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or commission of continuous sexual abuse of a child aren’t eligible for parole.

However, an offender may become parole-eligible under Texas law, including:

  • If an inmate has served 40 years of a sentence for capital murder;
  • If an inmate has served 35 years of a sentence for aggravated sexual assault (or two prior convictions, one of which was sex-related);
  • If an inmate has served 35 years of a sentence for aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit sexual abuse (or has two prior felony convictions, one of which was sex-related);
  • If an inmate has served 35 years of a sentence for indecency with a child-contact (or two prior felony convictions, one of which was sex-related);
  • If an inmate has served 35 years of a sentence for burglary habitation with intent to commit sexual assault or indecency with a child (or has two prior felony convictions, one of which is sex-related)

What About Parole for All Other Offenses in Texas?

Texas law says that offenders for non-3g crimes become parole-eligible when they have served actual calendar time plus good conduct time equaling 25 percent of the sentence or 15 years (the lesser of the two).

No one can predict when an individual convicted of a non-3g crime will be released from custody. The only certainty is that the offender receives credit for his or her time spent in custody before trial.

DFZ offenses are an exception

Individuals convicted of drug-free zone (DFZ) offenses carry unique parole eligibility requirements. The offender in this situation must serve at least five calendar years to become parole-eligible. In addition, if the offender is sentenced to five or fewer years, he or she isn’t eligible for mandatory supervision or parole.

When Are You Eligible for Parole in Texas?

As you can see, determining parole eligibility in Texas may be a complex task. Parole eligibility is important because the parole board can put its decision to release you into effect. The date isn’t when the board must make a decision:

  • The Texas Board of Parole and Pardons can make a decision before or after the parole eligibility date.
  • The parole eligibility date is often used as a “best estimate” for when the parole board will make its decision.

Contact an experienced Texas parole lawyer to learn more about your parole eligibility date.

How is Parole Determined by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles?

The parole board begins the parole determination process by reviewing the offense and sentence:

  • Many people are parole-eligible after they’ve served one-fourth of their jail or prison term.
  • Credit is then determined by adding good time to actual calendar time served.
  • According to Texas Government Code Section 498.001, good time is based on the offender’s behavior (reflected in his or her classification status), such as his or her willingness to actively participate in educational programs, work, and vocational training offered.
  • Good time doesn’t affect the inmate’s sentence length—if he or she is sentenced to 10 years, he or she is either in custody (jail or prison) or under supervision (on parole) for the sentence term.
  • Good time can be subtracted as a type of punishment.
  • The inmate’s mandatory release date is the day upon which the offender has served sufficient calendar time plus good time to yield his or her complete jail or prison sentence. The mandatory release date doesn’t always mean he or she will automatically be released on that date: it usually means he or she will receive another parole review from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Factors Considered by the Parole Board in Texas

Some of the important factors considered by the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons include 1) the nature of the inmate’s offense; 2) the offender’s criminal history; 3) length of time he or she has served; 4) his or her willingness to participate in prison programs; 5) his or her education level and age; 6) his or her community and family support; and 7) if the offender is likely to commit a new offense in the future.

What is the Role of a Texas Parole Attorney?

Most inmates and their loved ones want to do everything possible to improve the chances of parole. Most don’t realize that it’s crucially important to prepare and present the parole packet to the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons months before his or her hearing date. For most people, proper preparation of the parole packet isn’t a do-it-yourself project.

The Texas parole attorney:

  • Obtains the inmate’s incarceration records to note his or her achievements and behavior in custody, e.g. obtaining a GED certificate or no disciplinary infractions
  • Gathers the inmate’s records prior to incarceration, e.g. letters of recommendations, school records, and job skills
  • Presents a detailed, comprehensive written parole packet to assist the parole board in its decision-making process

An experienced parole attorney always thinks outside the box:

  • He prepares and presents trial transcripts, affidavits, recordings, videos, pictures, risk assessment scorings and more to present a compelling parole packet.
  • He creates a post-release plan of action for the parole board’s consideration. The post-release plan will discuss the inmate’s future job opportunities, resources, and housing. This information is vital to the parole board because the inmate mustn’t be considered a potential threat to the public.
  • He requests an interview with the panel on behalf of the offender. The interview provides the inmate with the chance to directly speak with the members. Although not all cases are granted a personal interview, a request submitted by an attorney may increase his or her chances of gaining this access.
  • He coordinates with members of the parole board to ensure that all receive the inmate’s materials in sufficient time.
  • He appears before the board to advocate for the inmate’s release.

Parole is a unique portion of Texas law. It’s an area that most criminal defense lawyers don’t participate in. An experienced parole lawyer can make the difference in the client’s case outcome.

Why is the Parole Packet So Important?

Approximately 30 percent of eligible individuals are granted parole each year. When properly prepared and submitted, the parole packet tells the offender’s life story and lays out his or her future life plans.

Members of the parole board don’t have unlimited time to consider the inmate’s good qualities. The parole packet portrays the client in the best light to do everything possible to convince time-constrained members that he or she is ready for community supervision—and that he or she will successfully complete parole.

Recognize that the parole board has an extensive case volume each day. They’re likely to spend just a few minutes on any offender’s file.

If the parole packet is well-organized and presented, it positively distinguishes the inmate from thousands of others. It also drastically increases his or her chances of being granted parole.

The Future Parolee Should Understand the Rules and Restrictions of Texas Parole

The parolee must follow specific rules, including:

  • Agreeing to follow all federal and state laws
  • Reporting to the assigned parole officer according to instructions
  • Obtaining the parole officer’s permission (in writing) before leaving Texas
  • Paying monthly administrative and supervisory fees
  • Avoiding other felons
  • Adhering to the prohibition against possession or owning a firearm

If the parolee violates any of his or her specific restrictions and rules, parole may be revoked. If he or she becomes eligible to receive parole in the future, members of the parole board may be less likely to grant it.

How Can You Improve Your Chances of Parole in Texas?

If you were convicted of a crime that includes the use of a deadly weapon, or if you were convicted of a violent, aggravated crime (3g offense), you will be required to serve 50 percent of your sentence before the parole board reviews your file.

However, if you were convicted of a non-aggravated crime, such as drug possession, you may become eligible for parole much more quickly:

  • It’s possible to serve just 12-1/2 percent of a drug possession sentence in behind bars and serve the remainder in community supervision.
  • Inmates charged with a drug or alcohol offense who demonstrate their willingness to obtain necessary substance abuse rehabilitation may have a better than average chance of obtaining parole.

It’s always your best strategy to take classes when offered, participate in rehabilitation programs and courses if available, and be courteous to the guards.

To learn more about parole in Texas, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros at 832-752-5972 now.

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