If a conviction for a crime left you sitting behind bars for any length of time, you undoubtedly looked forward to the parole hearing that offered the opportunity for early release. Your job during the hearing was to convince the members of the board that you have complied with the rules and that you are not a danger to yourself or society. If you were successful, you may have had a lot to celebrate when you were released.
Of course, being on parole is not the same as finishing your sentence; it is another step toward "paying your debt to society." Typically, someone convicted of a crime is eligible for parole after serving one third of the sentence unless the court denies that eligibility. Parole carries conditions, and if you fail to comply with those conditions, you may find yourself in a worse situation than when you were behind bars originally.
Understanding parole and its terms
While on parole, you are still serving your sentence, only you do not have to serve it in jail. However, violating your parole conditions can land you back in jail very quickly. While your parole terms may be different, some of the usual conditions for parole include the following:
- Avoiding breaking the law
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol
- Not leaving the state of Texas
- Avoiding association with other convicted felons
- Notifying the court of any change of address or employment
- Not purchasing or possessing firearms
If you violate any conditions of your release, you may be arrested and once again face the parole board, which will determine the appropriate penalties. The board will hear evidence and examine witnesses about the alleged violations, and you will have an opportunity to present your side of the story if you choose to. Your attorney can advise you if it is best to speak or remain silent. At the end of the hearing, the options the board members will consider include:
- Revoking your parole and sending you immediately to jail to finish out your sentence
- Adding conditions to your parole
- Rescinding your chances for early release from your parole
- Adding criminal charges related to the events during which you allegedly violated your parole
Maximizing your chances of success
Facing a parole board hearing for an alleged violation can be intimidating, especially since so much is at stake. You will not want to risk saying or doing something to jeopardize your opportunity for a positive resolution, and you will not want to accidentally omit critical evidence that could help your case. Seeking assistance from an experienced attorney may be in your best interests.