A parole lawyer can have a great impact on the outcome of a parole revocation hearing or parole review. It is not required that you have a lawyer at all. However, our Austin parole lawyers have the experience needed to represent the best side of your loved one, and maximize the chances of release or continued parole. There are two categories of matters that the Austin parole lawyers at Tillman Braniff can help you with, and they are parole reviews and parole revocation hearings.
Parole reviews are done when a person serving a prison sentence reaches their parole eligibility. Dates of eligibility for parole vary for different types of crimes, but is generally 1/4 of the original sentence for felonies (not state jail felonies), and 1/2 of the sentence for especially serious crimes called "3-G" offenses. A parole review is a process where the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles evaluates an inmate to decide whether or not they should be released from prison. Unlike the popular belief, a parole review is not actually a specific hearing at all. In reality, the process involves each parole board member reviewing the inmate's file separately, and then the parole board issues its decision as a group whether to grant or deny parole.
The Austin parole lawyers at Tillman Braniff will meet with the inmate and their family members to form a plan, and assemble a parole packet. We try to present the inmate as someone who has addressed the isssues that put them in jail, with support systems through family, friends, church, employment, or counselors. The parole board is interested in whether the person is likely to succeed in society instead of falling back into crime. The more convincing the parole packet, the better the chance of parole being granted.
Sometimes the parole board gives the opportunity to speak to the panel. When given the chance, we then present the case to the parole board in person. This is our time to speak directly to the panel of parole board members reviewing our client. We present the client’s case to the board in a thorough, completely honest way, and show them why the client should be released. A dedicated parole lawyer can make a well-prepared presentation, and make your case stand out from others that are denied parole.
Being on parole is a lot like probation. Parolees are supervised by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Parole Division, which is a different entity than the parole board. Like probationers, parolees have restrictions on their liberty, some of which can be quite a burden. A violation of any parole condition can result in the Parole Division seeking revocation of the person’s parole, and eventual return to prison.
After a violation, a parole warrant (often called a "blue warrant") will be issued. Once arrested, the parolee is held without bond through the revocation process. The parolee may hire an attorney to represent him through the revocation process, and is entitled to call witnesses at a parole revocation hearing. Generally speaking, the deck is stacked against a parolee. Neither the parole officer nor hearing officer will advocate for them, and it is difficult to build a defense from jail. The rules of evidence are relaxed so more gets in, and the burden of proof to find a violation is low.
If the hearing officer finds a violation has occurred, the hearing moves to the “adjustment phase” which is similar to a punishment phase during a criminal trial. The hearing officer takes the recommendation from the parole officer, and the information is sent to the Board of Pardons and Paroles (the body that made the decision to grant the parole in the first place) for a decision. The Board may do one of three things: 1) Continue the parolee with the same or modified conditions, including ordering time to be served in an Intermediate Sanction Facility, 2) Revoke the Parolee’s supervision, or 3) Send the case back to the Hearing Officer for further development of factual issues.
If you or a loved one is facing a parole review or a parole revocation, call the Austin parole lawyers at Tillman Braniff to see how we can help, at (512) 236-0505. We will be happy to set up a free consultation to talk about your case, and discuss your options.