Recent Parole Law Changes in Texas
- April 30, 2022
- Parole, Parole Representation
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
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After the last legislative session, Governor Abbott signed several bills that changed parole law in Texas. What follows is a round-up of the changes and what they could mean for you or a loved one who is awaiting parole.
Here are some of the recent changes in parole law for the State of Texas.
HB 465: No Parole for Continuous Child Trafficking
Texas is coming down harder on human trafficking. Inmates sentenced for continuous trafficking of children are now ineligible for parole unless both parties enter into an agreement before the trial commences.
If the parties agree, the defendant must do the following:
- Plead guilty to the charges
- The defendant and their attorney must agree in writing that the defendant would become eligible when they have served half of their sentence of 30 years, whichever is less.
- The judge, upon a motion from the prosecution, must make an affirmative finding that the parties entered into an agreement and enter that agreement into the case judgment.
If the victim does not agree to this arrangement, the inmate is not eligible for parole before they fulfill their sentence.
SB 768: Fentanyl Moved to a New Penalty Group
Drug charges are based on the specific drug and the amount in question. Different drugs and types of drugs come with separate charges, jail time, and fines.
Fentanyl is a dangerous drug that Texas decided to place in its own penalty group — Penalty Group 1-B, which includes fentanyl, alpha-methylfentanyl, and any other derivative of fentanyl. The move increases the penalties for the conviction of manufacturing or delivering fentanyl.
Penalty Group 1-B:
- A conviction for less than one gram is a state jail felony with a punishment of six months to two years in state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- A conviction for one to four grams is a second-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000.
- A conviction for four grams to 200 grams is punishable by ten years to life in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000.
- A conviction for 200 to 400 grams is punishable by 15 years to life in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.
- A conviction for more than 400 grams is punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.
If you are convicted of a new offense for an amount of more than four grams, you are not eligible for probation or deferred adjudication.
HB 375 Continuous Sexual Abuse Expanded to Include the Disabled
The offense of continuous sexual abuse of a child now extends to include disabled individuals of any age. This offense is a first-degree felony punishable by 25 years to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
HB 2352: Early Parole for Participation in a Pilot Work Program
As of this writing, HB 2352 has been filed without the Governor’s signature.
The bill authorizes the Parole Board to grant early release to an inmate who participates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice education and vocational training program. The bill is an effort to reduce recidivism and smooth the path to life outside prison.
HB 2325 requires the TSCJ to identify at least one hundred inmates as suitable candidates for the program. The Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System must develop and annually provide training to educate and inform judges on the program’s components.
It removes a condition that judges may impose on state jail felony defendants placed in community supervision that requires the defendant to submit to confinement to state jail at the beginning of supervision.
HB 385 Probation Reform
HB 385 related to the conditions of community supervision and procedures that apply to the reduction or termination of a probationer’s period of community supervision. The judge can authorize probation officers to modify the conditions to prioritize court-ordered actions based on progress under supervision.
Probation conditions can no longer require the probationer to avoid people or places of “disreputable or harmful character,” which previously may have taken away a vital support system.
The new law also requires the probation department or the Department of State Health Services to develop a continuum of care treatment plan for the probationer if they are sentenced to a substance abuse felony punishment facility.
Changes to the Texas Parole Street Time Credit
The Texas Parole Street Time Credit is based on the time a paroled inmate spends out of prison before revocation and re-incarceration.
The Texas Government Code Section 508.283(c) requires an inmate to receive “street time” as part of their sentence if their parole is revoked and they are placed back in prison.
There are many exclusions for Texas Street Time Credit, including:
- Capital murder
- First-degree felony or second-degree felony murder
- First or second-degree felony kidnapping
- Finding of an offense with a deadly weapon
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Indecency with a child
- First or second-degree aggravated assault
- First-degree felony injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual
- First-degree arson
- Second-degree felony robbery
- First-degree felony aggravated robbery
There was a question of whether a parolee should receive credit for street time towards their sentence if they misbehaved while on parole. The Street Time Credit states that if the parolee continues to behave while on parole, they will be allowed to serve the rest of their sentence in the free world until time for discharge.
Parole law, like other legislation, can change from one session to another. An expert parole attorney keeps track of these developments to ensure you or your loved one receives fair consideration for parole and that the Parole Board follows any changes in the law.
If you are awaiting parole or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Greg Tsioros.