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Getting Out of Jail Early: The Difference Between Parole and Pardons in Texas

Parole Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Getting Out of Jail Early: The Difference Between Parole and Pardons in Texas

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Are you currently spending each day repetitively and obsessively thinking about life on the outside? You’re far from alone. 

For most, spending your entire jail sentence behind bars causes irreversible trauma to both your psyche and your body. That’s why you need to know about your options for release. From appealing your conviction to parole and pardons, you have options.

Learn all the details about how parole and pardons work in the state of Texas below. 

Understanding What Parole Means in Texas

Parole is a privilege that’s afforded to some convicted offenders. It’s an opportunity for early release from jail that can be earned through good behavior while incarcerated. 

It’s important for inmates to understand that parole isn’t a guaranteed right. Many offenders are not eligible to apply for early release through parole, and most of those who attempt to apply will be denied. 

In short, parole means you can serve your time outside of jail. You’ll still be subject to certain rules and restrictions, but you won’t be trapped behind bars. Here are a few of the different types of parole in Texas:

  • Mandatory supervision
  • Quarterly reporting
  • Super-Intensive supervision program

In all these scenarios, you’ll need to plead your case to a parole board. Members of the parole board will analyze your file and vote on whether to grant or deny parole. 

The goal of parole is to help incarcerated individuals reintegrate into society as best as possible. So, you’ll want to convince the parole board that your goal is to become a good, functioning member of your community. 

If you’re interested in this process, you must first determine whether or not you’d be eligible for parole. We’ll get into more details about that process below. 

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Am I Eligible for Parole?

So, who is eligible for parole in Texas? Some individuals will never be eligible to apply for parole, including those who have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Those who were sentenced to death or for a crime of continuous sexual abuse against a minor will never be able to apply for parole. 

Other inmates may become eligible for parole when they’ve served a good portion of their sentence. Here’s a breakdown of specific crimes and their eligibility periods:

  • Capital murder: 40 years of time served
  • Aggravated sexual assault: 35 years of time served
  • Aggravated kidnapping or two prior felonies: 35 years of time served
  • Indecency with a child: 35 years of time served
  • Burglary with the intent to commit sexual assault: 35 years of time served

For other crimes, you’ll become eligible for parole when you’ve served about 25 percent of the sentence or 15 years behind bars. 

Simply being eligible for parole isn’t enough to sway the parole board, though. You’ll need to convince the board members that you’re a good candidate for parole. That means you need to show that you’re willing to be a productive member of society. 

Parole Violation in Texas

If you were granted parole, then your actions and behaviors will be under a microscope for quite a while. What happens if you violate the terms of your parole in Texas?

Depending on the severity of your parole violation, you could face serious penalties. After all, the parole you were granted was conditional. Here are the potential consequences of violating your parole:

  • New criminal charges
  • Revocation of parole and your return to jail
  • Increased length of your parole terms
  • Fines

Don’t fret if you’re accused of violating parole unjustly, though. You are entitled to have a hearing over the alleged issue. Courts must have a valid reason to believe that you violated parole before suspending or revoking it.

Always reach out to a criminal defense attorney if you’re accused of violating parole. The last thing you need is to be thrown right back into jail over a miscommunication or misunderstanding. 

Everything You Need to Know About Pardons in Texas

So, what exactly is a pardon? A pardon is an official forgiveness for a crime you committed. This forgiveness includes removing all criminal liability from the convicted person and restoring some of their rights.

Pardons are issued by someone with a lot of political power. In many circumstances, it’s a mayor, governor or the president of the U.S. who issues the pardon. 

A parole board can recommend that your crime be pardoned, but they do not have the political power necessary to execute such a recommendation.

As you can imagine, getting an official pardon from a political figure is very difficult to achieve. When many inmates learn about their options, they aren’t told about how rare pardons are.

Famous Pardons Throughout History

Did you hear about President Trump pardoning two turkeys, lovingly named Bread and Butter, over the Thanksgiving holiday? This longstanding tradition happens annually, but how often are human offenders pardoned?

President Trump took office in early 2017. From that time until August of 2019, he only issued about fifteen pardons. The current Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, was given 16 recommendations for pardons in 2017. He granted full pardons to seven individuals. In 2016, only five pardons were granted, and only four were given in 2015.

Those odds are not in your favor. 

Often, a political figure will be motivated to grant a pardon only when it will benefit their public image. 

The first official pardon was granted by George Washington. He pardoned two individuals who allegedly took part in an anti-tax movement and were charged with treason. Again, another strong statement was made when Andrew Jackson pardoned soldiers who had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Both presidents were motivated to pardon these specific criminals as gestures of reconciliation.

More recently, President Obama pardoned the Chelsea Manning after she exposed confidential information to WikiLeaks. President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was accused of detaining immigrants longer than is legally permitted. 

Contact parole lawyer Greg Tsioros today»

Getting Parole Versus Getting Pardoned in the State of Texas

If you’re convicted of a crime and imprisoned, then there are only a few ways out. You may end up serving your whole sentence, or you may get your conviction appealed in court. Often, neither of these scenarios are ideal or even possible for inmates. 

There are other options, though. You could get out of jail early through either the parole or pardon process in the state of Texas. After reading this article, you should have a good understanding of how each process works. 

If you need additional guidance or information about your options, then it’s advised that you reach out to a criminal defense attorney. Even while you’re behind bars, you still have rights and options. Never give up.

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