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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?

Updated for 2023
Originally Published on October 4, 2017

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 their prison sentence under community supervision. During parole, the parolee begins the task of integrating themselves 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 that 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 a 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 an affirmative finding of a deadly weapon; 19) First-degree burglary of habitation (with intent to commit certain sexual offenses); 20) Intoxicated manslaughter; 21) Murder; 22) Capital murder; 23) An offense under Section 481.1123, Health and Safety Code, punished under Subsection (d), (e), or (f) of that section; 24) A second degree felony under Section 22.01, Penal Code; 25) An offense under Section 22.01, Penal Code, punished under Subsection (b)(2), (7), or (8) of that section.

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, under Texas law, an offender may become parole-eligible in the following circumstances:

  • Capital Murder – An inmate who has served 40 years of a sentence for capital murder may become eligible for parole.
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault – An inmate becomes eligible for parole after serving 35 years of a sentence for aggravated sexual assault. This also applies if the inmate has two prior convictions, one of which was sex-related.
  • Aggravated Kidnapping with Intent to Commit Sexual Abuse – Parole eligibility occurs after serving 35 years of a sentence for this offense, or if the inmate has two prior felony convictions, one of which was sex-related.
  • Indecency with a Child-Contact – An inmate who has served 35 years of a sentence for this offense becomes eligible for parole. The same applies if the inmate has two prior felony convictions, one of which was sex-related.
  • Burglary of Habitation with Intent to Commit Sexual Assault or Indecency with a Child – An inmate becomes eligible for parole after serving 35 years of a sentence for this offense, or if they have two prior felony convictions, one of which is sex-related.

What About Parole for All Other Offenses in Texas?

In Texas, the parole eligibility for offenders convicted of non-3g crimes is determined by a combination of actual time served and good conduct time. These offenders become eligible for parole when they have served actual calendar time plus good conduct time equaling 25 percent of their sentence, or 15 years, whichever is lesser.

It’s important to note that parole eligibility does not guarantee parole release. Each case is reviewed individually, and the decision to grant parole is based on various factors, including the nature of the offense and the offender’s behavior while incarcerated.

DFZ offenses are an exception

Texas law treats DFZ offenses with specific considerations regarding parole eligibility. Individuals convicted of offenses committed in drug-free zones must serve at least five calendar years before becoming eligible for parole. This requirement reflects the state’s commitment to maintaining the safety and integrity of designated drug-free areas, typically around schools and other areas where children are commonly present.

Time Spent in Custody Before Trial

For all non-3g offenses, including DFZ offenses, offenders receive credit for the time spent in custody before their trial. This time is counted towards their sentence, impacting their parole eligibility date.

Continuous Review and Updates

The laws governing parole eligibility in Texas are subject to continuous review and updates. It’s crucial for those involved in the parole process, either directly or indirectly, to stay informed about the latest legal changes and how they might impact parole eligibility and procedures.

When Are You Eligible for Parole in Texas?

Determining parole eligibility in Texas can indeed be a complex task, given the various factors and legal nuances involved. Understanding when you or a loved one might be eligible for parole is crucial, as it marks the point at which the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles can begin considering release

Understanding the Parole Eligibility Date

The parole eligibility date is a significant milestone in an inmate’s sentence. However, it’s important to note:

  • The Role of the Parole Eligibility Date – This date is not a guarantee of when the parole board will make its decision. It serves as a marker indicating when an inmate is first considered eligible for parole.
  • Decision Timing – The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has the discretion to make a decision on parole either before or after the parole eligibility date. The timing of the decision can vary based on several factors, including the nature of the offense, the inmate’s behavior, and the board’s schedule.
  • “Best Estimate” Nature – Often, the parole eligibility date is used as a “best estimate” for when the parole board might make its decision. However, this is subject to change and should not be viewed as a fixed date.
Seeking Professional Guidance

Given the complexities of the parole process in Texas, it’s advisable to seek guidance from an experienced Texas parole lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can provide insights into your specific situation, help you understand the parole process, and offer advice on the best course of action.

Staying Informed

Laws and procedures related to parole in Texas are subject to change. Staying informed about the latest developments and understanding how they might affect parole eligibility and decisions is essential for inmates and their families.

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

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles follows a structured parole determination process for eligibility and decisions. This process involves a thorough review of various aspects of the inmate’s case and personal conduct.

Review of Offense and Sentence
  • Parole Eligibility – Many inmates become eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of their jail or prison term. This is a general guideline and can vary based on the nature of the offense and the sentence imposed.
  • Good Time Credits – Good time, as defined in Texas Government Code Section 498.001, is calculated based on the inmate’s behavior and participation in prison programs. This includes educational programs, work, and vocational training. Good time credits are added to the actual calendar time served to determine parole eligibility.
Impact of Good Time on Sentence
  • Sentence Length – It’s important to note that good time credits do not reduce the length of the inmate’s sentence. An inmate sentenced to 10 years will serve this time either in custody or under supervision (on parole).
  • Subtraction of Good Time – Good time can be subtracted as a form of punishment for misconduct while incarcerated.
Mandatory Release Date
  • Understanding the Mandatory Release Date – The mandatory release date is when an offender has served sufficient calendar time plus good time to complete their jail or prison sentence. However, reaching this date does not guarantee automatic release. It typically means the inmate will undergo another parole review by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Factors Considered by the Parole Board in Texas

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles considers several key factors in its parole decisions:

  • Nature of the Offense – The severity and circumstances of the inmate’s crime.
  • Criminal History – The inmate’s prior criminal record.
  • Time Served – The length of time the inmate has already spent in custody.
  • Participation in Prison Programs – Willingness to engage in educational and rehabilitative programs.
  • Education Level and Age – The inmate’s educational background and age.
  • Community and Family Support – The level of support the inmate has from family and community.
  • Risk of Reoffending – Assessment of the likelihood that the inmate might commit new offenses after release.

What is the Role of a Texas Parole Attorney?

Most inmates and their loved ones want to do everything possible to improve their 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.

Key Responsibilities of a Texas Parole Attorney

Gathering and Analyzing Records:

  • Incarceration Records – The attorney obtains the inmate’s records during incarceration, highlighting achievements and positive behavior, such as obtaining a GED certificate or maintaining a record free of disciplinary infractions.
  • Pre-Incarceration Records – They also gather records from before the inmate’s incarceration, including letters of recommendation, school records, and evidence of job skills.

Preparing the Parole Packet:

  • A Texas parole attorney is skilled in preparing a detailed, comprehensive written parole packet. This packet is crucial in assisting the parole board during its decision-making process.

Innovative Representation:

  • Diverse Evidence – The attorney prepares and presents various forms of evidence, including trial transcripts, affidavits, recordings, videos, pictures, and risk assessment scores, to create a compelling case for parole.
  • Post-Release Plan – They develop a post-release plan outlining the inmate’s future job opportunities, resources, and housing arrangements. This plan is vital in demonstrating to the parole board that the inmate will not pose a threat to public safety upon release.

Advocacy and Communication:

  • Interview Requests – The attorney may request an interview with the parole panel on behalf of the offender, providing an opportunity for direct communication with the board members. While not all cases are granted a personal interview, an attorney’s involvement may increase the chances of this access.
  • Coordination with Parole Board – They ensure that all members of the parole board receive the inmate’s materials in a timely manner.
    Representation at Hearings – The attorney appears before the board to advocate for the inmate’s release.
The Unique Nature of Parole Law

Parole law is a specialized area within Texas legal practice, distinct from general criminal defense. An experienced parole lawyer brings specific expertise and understanding of the parole process, which can significantly impact the outcome of a client’s case.

Why is the Parole Packet So Important?

The parole packet plays a pivotal role in the Texas parole process. While the exact percentage of eligible individuals granted parole each year can fluctuate, a well-prepared and submitted parole packet significantly impacts the parole board’s decision.

Impact of the Parole Packet

  • Conveying the Offender’s Story – The parole packet is an opportunity to tell the offender’s life story comprehensively and to outline future life plans. It’s a tool to portray the client in the best possible light.
  • Time Constraints of the Parole Board – Members of the parole board have limited time to review each case, often spending just a few minutes on any offender’s file due to their extensive case volume. A well-organized and compelling parole packet helps to distinguish the inmate positively from thousands of others.
  • Increasing Chances of Parole – A thorough and effectively presented parole packet can drastically increase the chances of being granted parole.
The Future Parolee Should Understand the Rules and Restrictions of Texas Parole

The parolee must follow specific rules, including:

  • Compliance with Laws – Agreeing to follow all federal and state laws.
  • Reporting Requirements – Regular reporting to the assigned parole officer as per instructions.
  • Travel Restrictions – Obtaining written permission from the parole officer before leaving Texas.
  • Financial Obligations – Paying monthly administrative and supervisory fees.
  • Associational Restrictions – Avoiding contact with other felons.
  • Firearm Prohibition – Adhering to the prohibition against possessing or owning a firearm.
Consequences of Violating Parole
  • Revocation of Parole – If the parolee violates any of the specific restrictions and rules, parole may be revoked.
  • Impact on Future Parole Eligibility – A history of parole violation can affect future parole decisions. If the individual becomes eligible for parole again, the parole board may be less likely to grant it, considering the previous non-compliance.

How Can You Improve Your Chances of Parole in Texas?

Improving your chances of parole in Texas involves understanding the parole system and taking proactive steps during incarceration. The criteria for parole eligibility vary depending on the nature of the crime committed.

Parole Eligibility for Different Offenses
  • Violent or Aggravated Crimes (3g Offenses) – If convicted of a crime involving a deadly weapon or a violent, aggravated crime (classified as a 3g offense), you are required to serve at least 50 percent of your sentence before the parole board reviews your file.
  • Non-Aggravated Crimes – For non-aggravated crimes, such as drug possession, parole eligibility can occur much sooner. In some cases, it’s possible to serve only 12-1/2 percent of a drug possession sentence behind bars, with the remainder under community supervision.
Enhancing Parole Prospects
  • Substance Abuse Rehabilitation – Inmates charged with drug or alcohol offenses who demonstrate a commitment to obtaining necessary substance abuse rehabilitation may have an improved chance of obtaining parole.
  • Participation in Programs – Engaging in educational classes, rehabilitation programs, and vocational courses when available is highly recommended. These activities not only aid in personal development but also show the parole board a commitment to positive change.
  • Behavioral Conduct – Maintaining courteous behavior towards guards and fellow inmates is essential. Good conduct can significantly influence the parole board’s perception of an inmate’s readiness for reintegration into society.

As you’ve seen throughout this article, the Texas parole system is complicated and can be challenging to navigate. Whether you’re seeking parole for yourself or advocating for a loved one, having the right legal support is essential. Timely and informed legal assistance can be a game-changer in the parole process.

At The Law Office of Greg Tsioros, we recognize the importance of each element discussed in this article – from understanding parole eligibility to the significance of a well-prepared parole packet. Our experience equips us to present your case compellingly and empathetically. We’re committed to ensuring your story is told effectively, aiming for the most favorable outcome in your parole proceedings.

For expert advice and dedicated assistance in navigating the complexities of the Texas parole system, reach out to The Law Office of Greg Tsioros. Let’s collaborate to understand your specific situation and chart the best path forward in your parole journey.

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