How Parole Revocation Works in Texas
- December 27, 2017
- Parole, Parole Violation & Revocation Defense
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on How Parole Revocation Works in Texas
Understanding the parole revocation process in Texas can help you or someone you love to avoid it.
After an offender is released from prison, he or she typically serves a period of re-integration commonly referred to as parole.
During this parole period, the offender must comply with specific parole terms and conditions. The parole period is considered a kind of test that answers whether the parolee is ready to return to the community as a law-abiding citizen. His or her failure to meet parole terms and conditions may have serious consequences.
Common Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) of Parole in Texas
When an offender is released on parole, he or she must comply with state and federal laws. In most cases, he or she must stay in Texas. He or she must periodically check in with an assigned parole officer. Parolees must:
- Find employment and maintain a steady job
- Continue the educational track he or she has started in prison
- Report any change of address to the parole officer
- Avoid using, keeping, or administering drugs or controlled substances
- Refrain from control or possession of firearms or any other deadly/defensive weapons
- Avoid correspondence with others on parole or within a correctional facility
- Submit to regular drug testing and warrantless search and seizure (searches to be conducted without a probable cause)
- Waive extradition
The parolee also receives T&Cs specific to his or her offense as required in Texas.
Texas Parole Violations
When any of the T&Cs of parole are violated, the parolee usually faces consequences. Other than the consequences relating to the parole violation, he or she may face one or more new criminal charges as well.
In decades past, a Texas parole officer was often called upon to decide the consequences of the parolee’s violation.
In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that parole officers couldn’t return parolees to prison. In Morrissey v. Brewer, the court determined that parolees have a right to due process:
- The parolee has a right to a parole revocation hearing
- He or she has the right to an attorney (to attempt to convince the parole panel that he or she should continue on parole)
- He or she has the right to know the evidence another party has presented against him or her
Under Texas law, the parolee can’t be returned to prison because the parole officer says so. He or she is entitled to a parole violation hearing.
The seriousness of these consequences depends on the kind of violation that happens next. The parole officer and voting members of the parole board determine whether it will continue or revoke parole.
Parole revocation can affect street time:
- If parole isn’t revoked, the parolee’s street time remains unchanged.
- If parole is revoked, any change in street time reflects two items: 1) how long he or she was on parole, and 2) the original offense that led to the offender’s prison sentence.
If parole is revoked, the offender may automatically lose street time if he or she was originally convicted of 1) aggravated robbery, 2) aggravated sexual assault, 3) aggravated kidnapping, 4) aggravated assault (1st/2nd degree), 5) capital murder, 6) 2nd degree murder, 7) 2nd degree sexual assault, 8) injury to an elderly or disabled adult or child, 9) 1st degree arson, 10) 1st degree burglary, 11) 2nd degree robbery, 12) increased felony (Drug Free Zone), 13) increased felony (child used in commission of the crime), 14) indecency with a child (2nd/3rd degree), or 15) any offense involving the use of a deadly weapon.
If the parolee was originally convicted for any of these offenses, it doesn’t matter how long he or she was paroled or how much time is left in the case before discharge.
Parole case examples
- Carol went to prison after she pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. She received parole when 10 years remained on the original sentence. For that reason, Carol’s parole sentence was 10 years. In other words, Carol would be required to successfully complete parole before her case was discharged. If Carol’s parole was revoked in her eighth year of parole, she could receive credit for the eight years and have just two years to serve in prison. That’s because she was on parole for more than half of the remaining sentence.
- If Carol’s parole was revoked after she was in the third year of parole, she wouldn’t receive credit for these years. She would be returned to prison to serve the full 10 years. That’s because she wasn’t on parole for at least 50 percent of the remaining sentence.Receipt of a parole revocation warrant may entail arrest and a return to prison for the parolee. If you’re in this situation because you’re facing a technical violation or a new crime, you must take action.
Parole Revocation Hearings and Legal Representation
A parolee may face a return to prison because of a technical violation or new criminal conviction. Before the parolee is returned to prison, he or she may request a preliminary hearing and/or a parole hearing. (In some situations, the parolee may be entitled to the revocation hearing only.)
At that time, the parole panel decides if the parolee violated any of the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of his or her parole. At that time, the board may vote to revoke parole, reverse a prior parole revocation, require added supervision, or take other actions.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice notes that the parolee may hire a defense attorney during the parole revocation hearing process. The Texas parole attorney will work with the parole panel to schedule the hearing, prepare documents, and protect the parolee’s legal rights.
The preliminary hearing is conducted in two parts.
The first part, called the allegation phase, involves the presentation of evidence regarding the parolee’s alleged parole violations.
A warrant is issued for the individual accused of a parole violation (if he or she isn’t already in custody).
At the preliminary hearing, impartial parole board officers (those not associated with his or her case) consider the evidence to determine whether a parole violation happened:
- If it decides there’s sufficient reason to ascertain that a parole violation happened, the officers schedule a revocation hearing.
- The parolee may remain in custody until the final hearing.
- The parole panel decides whether there’s sufficient reason to retain the parolee until the parole revocation decision is reached. In that case, the judge issues a temporary revocation order.
- The first phase doesn’t proceed to the hearing unless the parole panel has sufficient proof of the parole violation.
The second part, called the adjustment phase (mitigation hearing), allows the panelists to consider the evidence about the parolee’s social adjustment, including his or her employment history, compliance (with court-mandated programs and education), conditions of release, and prior parole or mandatory supervision violations.
The three-person voting panel reviews hearing reports and reviews waivers. Texas Board of Pardons and Parole has seven offices in Texas. The hearing location is usually determined by the panel receiving the parolee’s case. Analysts review the evidence before the parole panel meets to decide whether to revoke the offender’s parole. The steps include:
- The hearing begins with the swearing in of the accused.
- He or she is read the rights.
- The accused should never waive his or her rights for any reason.
- The parole officer then presents the parolee’s Certificate of Release.
- The hearing officer asks the parole officer for details that substantiate the allegations (that the accused has violated his or her terms of parole).
- Findings are made by a preponderance of the evidence.
- The hearing officer will ask the accused if he or she admits/denies the allegations.
- Effective defense includes cross-examination of supporting witnesses.
- The Texas parole lawyer may ask for a no finding and move to close the hearing.
Actions the parole panel may take during the parole revocation process
Members of the voting panel may decide to:
- Call a revocation hearing
- Continue the offender’s mandatory supervision or parole but decide to transfer him or her to an Intermediate Sanction Facility, Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, treatment center, or halfway house
- Continue the offender’s supervision (with or without new modifying conditions), such as a) allow the discharge of the offender, if after the discharge date, b) revoke his or her mandatory supervision or parole release, or c) reverse a prior parole revocation.
What are the Offender’s Responsibilities?
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the offender isn’t required to respond to questions posed by law enforcement or to offer any information whatsoever concerning the alleged violation. In addition, the parolee may:
- Engage a qualified Texas parole attorney at his or her own expense
- Request witnesses
- Enable direct and/or cross-examination of witnesses
The offender’s parole attorney is an invaluable partner during the parole hearing process. He counsels the offender. He also presents and/or examines relevant witnesses and addresses all allegations to defend the legal rights of his client.
Possible Defenses against the Alleged Parole Violation
When an individual is accused of violating parole, he or she may present evidence to convince the parole panel that a violation didn’t happen.
Presenting absolute proof isn’t always necessary. The Texas parole lawyer must show that the allegation isn’t reflected by a preponderance of the evidence. When possible, the parole lawyer will show that no violation is proven. At that point, the parolee may walk away from the hearing with no additional consequences.
Alternatively, the parolee and his or her parole lawyer have the option to defend or justify a violation:
- For example, the defense could argue that violating parole was accidental or necessary.
- Raising a defense of justification, the parole panel may decide against taking administrative action or opt to send the accused to jail.
In either scenario, it’s always the best course to consult with an experienced Texas parole lawyer if accused of a parole violation.
Contact an Experienced Texas Parole Attorney
Revocation of parole means your freedom is at stake. Revocation of parole is a devastating experience. An experienced parole lawyer can mean the difference in the outcome of your case.
If you or a loved one has been served with a parole revocation warrant or a blue warrant in Texas, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your legal options. Call The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5972 for an initial case evaluation now.