Unfortunately, a criminal conviction can have severe and life-altering consequences. In addition to the immediate possible ramifications like imprisonment and hefty fines, a conviction will remain on your criminal record, affecting various aspects of your life. Luckily, a guilty judgment or conviction is not the end of your life.
If you feel the judgment was unfair, did not have adequate legal representation, or do not like the collateral consequences of the conviction, consider seeking post-conviction relief. In some cases, post-conviction relief could be mandatory, but it remains at the judge's discretion in others.
With a reliable attorney, you could qualify for post-conviction relief to reduce or avoid the several negative consequences of a conviction. Parole is one of the many post-conviction relief options available to you.
Although there are several conditions you must comply with when granted parole, it is undoubtedly a post-conviction relief option you cannot ignore because it has less severe consequences than spending your sentence in jail. We at Chula Vista Criminal Attorney can help convince the court that you are an excellent candidate for this post-conviction relief option.
We have helped several defendants secure post-conviction relief, and we will be glad to help you fight for your freedom.
Post-Conviction Relief at a Glance
The term "post-conviction relief" refers to various channels by which a convicted defendant can seek to have his/her conviction overturned, sentence modified, record expunged, or his/her civil rights restored.
Since there is a statute of limitations or a limited time frame to pursue these measures, you should consult with a defense attorney as soon as possible to know your options and file your petition on time.
Although a conviction is final once the court denies your appeal or once the statute of limitations for filing an appeal has expired, a few alternatives are available, including filing a post-conviction relief motion. How long the post-conviction relief process will take depends on the option your attorney will recommend as the most suitable for your unique case.
Your defense attorney will review the facts of your case to determine the best post-conviction relief option for you to minimize or avoid the severe consequences of a conviction.
An Overview of Parole as a Post-Conviction Relief Option
A parole is a temporary or permanent prisoner's release from jail before he/she completes his/her sentence. However, before being released from jail, he/she must promise to comply with all the court-imposed conditions and rules.
Once you or your attorney file a petition for parole, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether it is safe to let you back into the community or not. Here are the factors the prosecutor will consider when determining whether you qualify for parole:
Whether You Have a Determinate or Indeterminate Sentence
In a determinate sentence, the court sets a specified fixed period you will spend behind bars upon a conviction. For instance, if you are guilty of first-degree robbery, the court will sentence you to up to nine (9) years in prison. Nine years is the maximum time you could spend in jail for this conviction, but it does not necessarily mean you will spend the entire time behind bars.
Conversely, in an indeterminate sentence, the court sets a range of years or time you must spend in prison upon conviction instead of a fixed period. For instance, a felony conviction for a drug transportation offense could attract jail time of three (3), four (4), or five (5) years.
In this case, the judge will decide the appropriate jail time for your case, depending on your unique case's facts. Unlike determinate sentencing, in an indeterminate sentencing structure, the judge will give a minimum time you will spend in jail, and your date of release from jail is left open.
If you are on an indeterminate sentence, the court will grant parole once you complete a determinate length of the sentence.
Credit Points Earned During Your Sentence
Your behavior or conduct during your sentence can also affect your eligibility for parole as a post-conviction relief option. You can have the sentence reduced to half when you earn credit points for good conduct during your sentence. When you are serving a felony conviction sentence, you could qualify to reduce it by up to eighty-five percent (85%) if you earn enough credit for excellent behavior.
However, a conviction for particular crimes, including murder, will make it challenging to have your sentence reduced even when you earn yourself credit points for good behavior. Also, if it is your third felony conviction, meaning you have two felony convictions on your record, you could be ineligible for parole.
Parole Suitability Hearing by the Board of Parole
Being eligible for parole does not automatically mean you will receive it. You must attend a hearing by the Board of Parole, commonly known as the parole board, to prove that you are an excellent candidate or suitable for this post-conviction relief option. Being "suitable" for parole means you are reformed and do not pose a danger to society or the public.
If the board finds you suitable for parole, you will receive parole. You will have a high chance of receiving parole during this hearing if you have an attorney to help raise mitigating arguments to convince the board you are suitable for parole. Some of the factors the board will consider when deciding whether you are suitable for parole include:
- Your past criminal records
- The nature and circumstances of the crime that led to your conviction
- Your behavior while in prison (both negative and positive)
- Whether you feel regret for your actions
- The plans that you have for re-entering your society or community and what opportunities you are likely to receive
- Whether you received in-house counseling and social and educational programs after conviction
- Whether there is any opposition to you receiving parole from your family
If, after this hearing, the board decides not to give you parole or probation, you will be ineligible for probation for the next three (3) years from this hearing date. However, there is also a possibility the board could require you to wait for a maximum of fifteen (15) years before requesting another hearing.
It is also worth noting that the parole board could reverse its decision to grant you parole if there are sufficient aggravating arguments against you. Public safety is the primary consideration when deciding whether to grant you parole. Some of the factors that could render you ineligible for parole include the following:
- You have an unstable social history
- Whether you committed the crime in a heinous or cruel manner
- Whether you have a record of violence
- Whether you were involved in severe misconduct while in prison
Unless the parole board finds these factors outweigh the public's safety, they should parole life inmates who are eligible for parole. If the board finds you suitable for parole, they will decide the conditions you must comply with for the required timeframe.
Hiring an experienced defense attorney can increase your odds of winning this hearing and help you avoid the severe consequences of spending your sentence behind bars.
Terms and Rules You Must Comply With During Your Parole
As previously mentioned, if you are eligible for parole, you must agree to adhere to all the court-ordered terms and conditions. Failure to abide by these terms and rules will attract a parole violation charge, which can result in parole revocation and additional jail time.
Parole conditions are restrictive or strict because the state or court still has substantial control over you. Listed below are some of the terms and rules you must comply with during your parole:
- Consent to notify your court-appointed probation officer about your whereabouts, including where you live
- Agree to live within the specified geographical limit within the county
- Consent to regular or impromptu searches by law enforcement officers
- Avoid buying or having deadly weapons in your possession or presence
- Avoid associating with or contacting gang members, especially if your conviction or case is gang-related
- Avoid using or accessing the internet
- Agree not to commit another crime or violate a law
- Agree to register and reregister with the local law enforcement authority if you are guilty of a sex crime, arson, or drug offense
- Promise not to violate the terms of your conditions
Generally speaking, the above-listed conditions are not the only ones the court could require you to abide by during your parole. The conditions the court will require you to comply with during your parole can vary depending on your case's facts. If you are guilty of severe crimes like arson, sex, or drug offenses, the court will require you to abide by particular strict requirements. For instance:
- You cannot work near schools or areas selling firearms
- You will have no access to the internet
- You cannot associate with members of a criminal or street gang
The board of parole will revoke your parole if you refuse to abide by the required conditions of your probation. If you are unsure of what to do or not do while on parole, you should speak with your attorney for advice and legal guidance to avoid making any mistakes that could land you back in prison.
Parole Violation and the Revocation Hearing Process
When you violate the conditions and terms of your parole, the parole board could revoke it and send you to jail for up to one (1) year. Depending on the specific regulation you violated, the prosecutor presiding over your case could decide to file a new charge against you.
That means you can serve a separate and independent sentence when you violate the terms of your parole. Hence, it is wise to understand your rights during the revocation hearing, where the board will decide whether to revoke your parole. Your rights during this hearing include the following:
- The legal right to retain the services of an attorney
- The legal right to a neutral or fair hearing
- The legal right to confront and question the available witnesses
- The legal right to receive a written notice of the accusations
- The legal right to examine and review the evidence that the prosecutor will use against you for the alleged violation
- The legal right to challenge the evidence against you
- The legal right to receive a written or typed decision describing the reasons for the judgment
Upon an arrest for allegedly violating your probation terms, the arresting officer will put you in jail as you wait for your parole revocation hearing, which has two divisions, namely:
- Preliminary hearing
- Final hearing
At the preliminary proceeding or hearing, the board will decide whether there is sufficient probable cause to move the alleged violation to the final parole revocation hearing. This hearing will occur ten (10) days after receiving a notice of violation, and you can have your attorney attend both hearings on your behalf to present evidence of why you should stay on parole.
Unfortunately, if the board decides to revoke your parole, you will serve a jail sentence of up to one (1) year. If you violate another law or commit another offense while serving your sentence, you could receive an additional twelve (12) months in jail.
With the services of an attorney, you could qualify for another chance at parole, meaning you will not go back to jail. Your parole officer could also help you prevent a possible parole revocation by presenting evidence of your good conduct during parole.
Penalties to Expect if You Are Guilty of Parole Violation
It is a wise idea to abide by the rules of your parole for the maximum time required by the parole board. If you comply with all the terms and requirements of your parole, the parole officer or agent will sign off on your parole to continue living your daily life. However, when you fail to comply with your parole terms and conditions, the parole officer will report the violation, leading to a re-arrest.
At the end of your parole revocation proceeding, the judge could make the following decisions depending on the available evidence against you and your attorney's mitigating arguments:
- Reinstate the conditions and terms of your parole
- Change the conditions and terms of your parole
- Revoke or suspend your probation and send you back to jail for the maximum period required for the original conviction
The severity of the consequences of a parole violation could be harsher if you violated another law during the parole.
Defenses Your Attorney Could Use During a Parole Violation Hearing
The board on your case will examine and review all the available evidence, including eyewitnesses, victims, and arresting officers' testimonies, when determining whether to revoke your parole. The parole officer will also speak during this hearing about your conduct during parole.
However, your attorney will be there to challenge their evidence and arguments for the best possible outcome. Below are possible defenses that could work to your advantage to avoid a revocation of your parole and the possible harsher consequences of this offense:
You are a Victim of Mistaken Identity
Even lawmakers understand that there is a possibility that people can mistake you as a culprit for a particular crime if you are on parole just because you are out of prison. Fortunately, this defense is applicable if your attorney can provide evidence to convince the judge that you did not commit the alleged violation even if you were around the crime scene.
Mistaken identity is a common defense in criminal cases and occurs if the perpetrator's description fits or is similar to yours. For example, you both have the same height and skin color.
You are a Victim of False Allegations
Once you receive parole, some people could dislike the idea of you not being behind bars, including police officers. Below are examples of how false allegations can arise:
- From an ex-lover who does not want you out of jail or around him/her after your release
- From a law enforcement officer who has a grudge against you
- From a person who dislikes the idea of you being out of jail
Even lawmakers understand that there is a possibility that a person with vengeful or jealous motives could falsely accuse you of violating the terms of your parole to have you back in jail.
A reliable attorney can argue that the alleged parole violation was a plan by some individuals unhappy with the idea of you being out of jail on parole from the start. If this defense works in your favor, the parole board will not revoke your parole.
You are Factually Innocent
As a parolee, you can unintentionally engage in unlawful conduct, especially when you spend time with people with prior convictions. There is also a possibility that someone can attempt to accuse you of his/her unlawful acts because there is a high chance that people will point fingers at you first since you are a parolee.
If your defense attorney can prove with adequate evidence that you are factually innocent of the alleged parole violation, the judge will drop your case.
Other Post-Conviction Relief Options to Consider
If you are ineligible for parole, your attorney can help you request other post-conviction relief options to avoid or reduce the possible detrimental repercussions of a conviction. Other post-conviction relief options you could qualify for include:
Motion to Withdraw Plea
A motion to withdraw a plea or a motion to vacate judgment is a request to the court presiding over your case to allow you to take back a "no contest" or "guilty" plea. Generally, the court will only allow you to take back or withdraw a plea if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not understand the potential consequences of your plea choice.
For instance, your defense attorney did not adequately explain everything you need to know about the available plea choices, including the possibility of deportation once you enter a guilty plea. If the judge agrees to withdraw your plea choice, you can proceed to trial to challenge the alleged crime or negotiate for a different favorable plea bargain.
Motion for a New Trial
As the name suggests, a motion for a new trial is a request to the court to schedule a new trial for the alleged crime. The court could agree to your request for a new trial if a prosecutor’s misconduct issue prejudiced your legal rights to a just and fair trial.
Although most judges are reluctant to accept that there are inherent flaws in their courtroom, a reliable attorney could increase your chances of qualifying for a new trial and the best possible outcome.
A Motion for Resentencing
Upon conviction and receiving your sentence, you could qualify for resentencing. A motion for resentencing is a request to the court presiding over your case to modify your sentence, including parole conditions if you are on parole.
According to Proposition 47, if you have a wobbler felony conviction, you can request the court reduce it to a lighter misdemeanor offense, which carries less severe penalties. If you have a felony murder conviction, you could qualify for a lighter punishment through Senate Bill (SB) 1437.
Once you complete and abide by all the terms of your probation, you could be eligible to have your conviction expunged under PC 1203.4. If the court grants your expungement petition, you could legally say you have never had a conviction record when someone inquires about your criminal background unless:
- You are applying for a job as a law enforcement or peace officer
- You are applying for a job in a public office
Apart from the satisfaction of knowing you can legally and confidently say you do not have a conviction history, an expungement has several other benefits, including:
- It can help you secure reliable employment
- It can help you join professional organizations
- It can help you secure professional licenses
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one is serving a sentence after a conviction, he/she could qualify for parole to move out of jail and reunite with society and family. Since not everyone is eligible for this post-conviction relief option, you should speak with an attorney for legal guidance and representation for the best possible outcome.
Our experienced defense attorneys at Chula Vista Criminal Attorney will prepare the best evidence to help you convince the court and the parole board that you are an excellent candidate for parole. We invite you to call us at 619-877-6894 for an obligation-free consultation with our profound attorneys.