California parole is available for eligible convicted persons to face shorter sentences. Over the years, the parole system has undergone various changes, leading to varying time requirements and eligibility criteria. Therefore, most convicts seeking to learn of their parole options should work with criminal defense attorneys conversant with the system for reliable information.
While most convicted inmates benefit from the parole system, many unrepresented persons miss the chance to leave California state prisons earlier because of unsuccessful parole hearings. During the scheduled hearings, you get to convince the Board of Parole Hearings that you deserve early release based on complying with their requirements.
While you can easily undertake the hearing by yourself, it is always better to have a criminal lawyer representing you, to create a better chance at securing your parole program. Thanks to a criminal defense attorney, you will make all necessary preparations before the actual hearing to ensure you stay ready for the proceedings. Additionally, your lawyer can also engage the parole board in persuasive negotiations that set you in a better position to receive fair release terms. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we focus on providing our clients with the best legal services in Los Angeles, California. Our skilled team of attorneys is happy to take on your parole matter to help you secure an appropriate release.
Understanding What Parole Entails in California
The California parole system forms part of a convicted person’s sentence and comes to play towards the end of the sentence that a presiding judge issues. The parole sentences only apply in felony crimes, meaning that the defendant will have to serve part of the sentence in state prison. When an inmate receives a sentence with parole, he/she will join the supervised program that aims to promote successful reintegration in society after completing a prison sentence.
However, your eligibility to begin parole depends on the length of your prison sentence, as specific guidelines exist to mark the onset of parole regulations. As a result, it is essential to understand that you will still have to serve time behind bars, as parole only reduces your prison sentence. Additionally, the period of your conviction matters, mostly if parole regulations were different from present-day directives. Hence, you want to receive all relevant information concerning your case to help you prepare adequately for a parole hearing.
While parole is mandatory for any convicted inmate whose sentence included it, the person must undergo preliminary hearings to determine whether he/she has met the set requirements. The Board of Parole Hearings chairs the determinant hearings in California, with its seventeen person membership. On top of this, the board will preside over any other hearings held to assess several factors that the members must confirm before clearing you to begin your parole term.
Your relationship with a criminal lawyer should begin as soon as you face arrest, into the criminal trial, and even after conviction. Retaining your attorney even after getting behind bars is crucial because he/she will provide all necessary information regarding your parole requirements and options. Additionally, an experienced lawyer will also prepare you for what to expect from the various assigned officials you will have to work with pending your parole release.
Eligibility for Parole
If your state prison sentence includes an option for parole, it is necessary to understand the requirements that the Board of Parole Hearings sets ours before authorizing you to join the system. Learning of the eligibility requirements as soon as you begin your sentence is vital, as some of the factors should start as you serve your prison sentence.
Additionally, understanding what the hearing board expects from you will give you a beneficial head start in securing your release on parole, as the hearing will not bring up contentious issues for discussion. Some of the factors for the boards to consider are:
Your Conduct in Prison
Among the essential factors to work on is your overall behavior while serving your prison sentence, as engaging in good behavior creates a positive image. When in prison, you can participate in various activities and chores that add to your good credit score. With a satisfactory score, you raise your chances of receiving early parole, meaning that you may only serve a fraction of your sentence.
For example, if you were to serve twenty years for a felony, you can become eligible for early parole after serving twelve years, if you have a good credit score. The opportunity arises because of the prison system’s complications, including overcrowding and budgetary constraints for the prison division. Hence, while earlier requirements directed prisoners to serve at least two-thirds of their sentences, you may now do up to half the time based on a good credit score.
Therefore, you want to take advantage of the flexibility and engage in positive behaviors, including voluntary craftsmanship. Moreover, you can also join various education programs offered in most prison facilities to help you gain new skills that may become useful beyond your release.
Lastly, it helps maintain healthy relationships with personnel and fellow inmates by avoiding conflict and physical violence. If your prison records indicate positive behavior throughout, you stand a better chance of receiving parole during your first hearing.
While remaining on your best behavior behind bars is advisable, some circumstances rule out your chances of earning good credit. Firstly, facing a murder conviction restricts your chances of accumulating good credit to secure parole. The main reason murder convicts face the restriction is that murder sentences may provide indefinite life sentences without a parole option. Nevertheless, if your murder sentence offers an opportunity for parole, you will have to persevere through a long system that puts you under tight scrutiny. Hence, you are unlikely to earn good credits for your work or time spent on beneficial activities in prison.
Secondly, if you have a past criminal record with a conviction for two or more felony crimes, you are also disqualified from the excellent credit system. Often, the hearing board may consider a repeat offender a severe risk to society if he/she receives early parole. Consequently, your hearing will not consider any good credit systems as a past felony convict.
The Type of Felony You Committed
The board will also consider the type of crime you committed and faced conviction to ensure that their directives align with the felony restrictions. While the challenges experienced in the prison system now allow inmates to receive parole after serving even half of their sentence, specific crimes require you to complete at least eighty-five percent of the sentence before eligibility for parole.
Among the crimes that require you to comply with the eighty-five percent threshold is child molestation, an offense in violation of section 288 of the California Penal Code. The elements of crime involved forcing a minor to engage in lewd conduct, often in public. Since child molestation involves minors who are sensitive members of society, an offender will have to remain behind bars for longer to prevent him/her posing threats to the crime victim.
Committing rape, contrary to section 261 PC, is also a serious offense that attracts harsh penalties. If your matter affords you a parole option, you will have to meet the requirement set and spend a more extended period in prison than other offenders. Rape is generally considered a grave offense that puts the victim at a significant risk of suffering from health complications and psychological trauma after the incident. Subsequently, offenders convicted of the crime will have to undergo an extended time requirement.
Engaging in violent offenses like the first-degree burglary and receiving a conviction also places you in the category that must complete eight-five percent of their sentence to become eligible for parole. Since the offense contravenes section 460 of the penal code and exposes the general community to possible insecurity cases, your parole release terms are more challenging.
Your Preparations to Re-integrate with Your Community
Doubtless, you need to establish elaborate plans to return to your community and integrate successfully after prison release. Hence, the board may ask how you plan to promote a smooth transition process, including whether you will afford basic needs.
For example, you may have to give a brief explanation of how you intend to apply for jobs post-conviction and support yourself by paying rent and other utility bills. The reason for the hearing board’s probes is to ensure that you have a reliable system of survival that will not push you to engage in additional crimes to help you get by.
If you truthfully admit that your options are limited, the board may organize to have you begin a specific type of parole supervision that provides you with start-up resources like money and clothing. However, the provisions are only available for a limited time, meaning that you will still have to organize yourself and start finding ways of supporting yourself after being released from prison.
The Sentence Your Received During Conviction
All inmates in state prison must first undergo a criminal trial where the prosecutor proves their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. During the criminal proceedings, a convicted defendant receives his or her sentence that may include parole. It helps to remember that different convicts face differing penalties that result in several possible outcomes.
When the judge issues a sentence with a parole option, the time-lapse that allows you to begin the parole program depends on the length of the sentence. Moreover, if you earned good credit scores in prison, it affects your sentence significantly, as discussed above. For example, if you receive a determinate sentence, you will know precisely how many years you spend in prison before facing parole. Thus, the correction department can track your progress and issue alerts of an approaching chance for a parole hearing.
Alternatively, you may receive an indeterminate sentence, meaning that the years in your conviction are indefinite. Most indeterminate sentences are available for grievous offenses like murder, where the judge can issue ‘life’ imprisonment. While the term life may insinuate incarceration until you die, technical provisions provide specific periods like twenty-five years for the indeterminate sentence. Hence, the board will check whether you have completed the years allocated to your particular indefinite sentence before allowing a hearing.
In most cases, sentences that include the term ‘life’ with parole options also set a minimum seven-year period for the convicted felon to serve before becoming eligible for parole release. The minimum sentence is a restriction imposed for severe crimes with offenders who may put the society at risk upon early release.
The Level of Remorse You Display
Accepting your mistakes and looking forward to reverting from them is also an essential factor for the hearing board to consider and assess before granting you a parole hearing. When you express remorse for your crimes, you will have portrayed signs of successful rehabilitation and comprehension of the dangers related to criminal activities.
While relying on verbal remorse may get you the hearing parole, you will have to follow up on your promises once the program begins to maintain your positive image. For example, if you intend to start therapy upon release on parole, the Board of Parole hearings may later request you to provide proof of consistent attendance to check on your commitment level.
After the board approves you for meeting the eligibility criteria set out for inmates, you will be ready to begin parole. However, you must commit to the conditions set out in your parole release forms. Usually, the requirements work to ensure you comply with legal provisions and submit to authorities at any time.
Among the most critical conditions to accept is allowing law enforcement authorities to carry out random searches without valid search warrants. When you consent to the provision, you will have to actively avoid engaging in illegal activities like possession of drugs or weapons.
Additional conditions that you must comply with include:
- Adhering to restrictions like prohibited access to the internet, possession of firearms, and narcotic drugs.
- Registering with authorities, mostly if you were a sex offender
- Accepting to live within county zones to allow parole agents and other authorities to supervise you consistently.
When you finally begin the parole program, you will receive an assigned parole agent whose job is to uphold security in the community upon your release. Therefore, the agent ensures you do not pose any security risks to any community members by engaging you in specific supervision types. There are six types of parole supervision in California. They are:
- Electronic supervision using an all-day monitor system that checks your physical location, home surveillance, and car movements.
- Regular re-entry allows your parole agent to help you access housing and job opportunities to start up after prison release.
- Case management supervision where you progressively receive less scrutiny with proven self-integration.
- Intensive re-entry includes advanced supervision, including accompaniment to different locations like work, therapy offices, and school.
- Specialized caseload supervision is exclusive for parolees who present possible high risk to the society.
- Personal care and subsistence permits your parole officer to help you obtain basic needs and services to reintegrate. Here, you will have access to limited monetary support, clothes, and transport after prison release.
Further, your parole officer reports your progress to the Parole Hearings Board, including any alleged violations. In this case, your parole agent will preside over investigations concerning your alleged violations and present the board with recommendations on further actions.
Your Rights During a Parole Hearing
If the Board of Parole hearings summons you to a hearing after an alleged parole violation, we recommend learning about your entitlements to help you undergo a fair hearing procedure. Most inmates face unsuccessful parole hearings that end in dismissal and return to state prison because they fail to appreciate their rights and use them in defense.
A failed parole hearing will lead to additional jail time as you await approval of the new applications. Moreover, you may find yourself waiting for up to ten years for a second parole hearing due to system delays. Therefore, to avoid all the delays, you want the first hearing to go as smoothly as possible for the best chances of approval. Some of the rights you are entitled to during the hearing are:
The Right To Legal Representation
Like other court proceedings, parole hearings allow inmates to access legal representation from their criminal defense attorneys. With an experienced lawyer present, you will understand the different technicalities discussed and work towards complying with the requirements.
Legal representation also extends your ability to make persuasive arguments and counter-arguments supporting a parole release, as your lawyer has access to more resources. Hence, he/she can research specific issues that will prove beneficial in convincing the board to approve parole commencement.
Right to An Unbiased Hearing
Since you will appear for your hearing as a convicted felon who allegedly violated parole rules, it helps to protect your right to a fair hearing session. Doing so prevents the board members from subjecting you to prejudice. If you suspect any underlying discrimination arising from your position as an inmate or the crime you committed, we recommend informing your lawyer about it.
Once your criminal defense attorney collects sufficient information to support your claims, he/she may then raise the concerns to the respective authority mandated to handle the matter. You will often have a justified case to present to the relevant authorities, as long as the information you submit is admissible and portrays credible reason to believe that you faced unfair hearings.
Right to a Written Notice of Your Accusations
Additionally, you are entitled to receive a written notice that entails all the accusations you face that amounted to parole violations. Usually, the statement should accompany the official letter summoning you to a hearing, so that you may have adequate time to raise defenses and counter-arguments for the accusations.
Right to Viewing the Evidence Prepared Against You
As the accused person, you have the right to learn of the evidence prepared for use against you during the parole hearing. Upon reviewing the various evidential sources, you can identify some documents that include inaccurate records or event dates to challenge the proof. With your attorney present, you will know what to accept and what to question, as you work towards promoting a fair trial.
The Right to be Heard
The rules of natural justice also avail every accused person the right to be heard. The parole trial will be unfair if you do not have the chance to speak and provide evidence supporting your case. If you decide to use the right to speak, you want to present credible information that justifies your actions and discredits claims of violating parole rules.
The Right to Written Reasons for the Final Decision
When the board adjudicates the entire parole hearing, the members must come to a unified decision on the repercussions you will face for allegedly violating parole regulations.
Upon deciding on an appropriate outcome, the board must then issue a written document giving details on the verdict, including directives on subsequent actions. The document should also explain why the board settled on their decision based on all the evidence presented.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Suppose you or a loved one is currently incarcerated with the option of parole. In that case, it is necessary to source all the information you can to learn of the eligibility requirements and hearing process. With the right information, you can vouch for an early release from state prison and integrate into society with minimal struggles. Additionally, you should get in touch with a certified criminal defense lawyer who will provide professional support throughout the parole process.
At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, you will receive excellent legal services and support for your parole hearing to help you get back to your everyday life after release from prison. Our services are available to citizens in Los Angeles, California. To get in touch, call us today at 310-564-2605.
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