Parole Revocation Hearing Basics
For any individual on parole, violating a condition of their parole is a constant concern. There are many conditions of parole that are very easily violated and the burden of proving a violation of parole is much lower in a parole revocation hearing than is proving a person guilty of a criminal offense. Navigating the parole revocation process can be frustrating, complicated, and difficult without the help of an experienced lawyer. This guide is to provide the basics of a parole revocation hearing and what you can expect. Of course any specific hearing may deviate from this guide, as a parole revocation hearing tends to be much less formal than a criminal trial. There are many variables beyond the scope of this guide and for a more detailed discussion you should consult with a lawyer who is familiar with the parole revocation process. For further reading, consult Texas Government Code Chapter 508.
What Got You Here
If you are reading this, it is likely because you or someone you know is accused of violating some condition of parole and is now sitting in jail/prison or you are concerned with the unknown of what may come should you or someone you know be accused of violating parole. Typically, when a person is alleged to have violated their parole, a blue warrant is requested and issued as directed by the parole officer. The parolee is arrested, either by turning themselves in, or when they otherwise have interaction with officers and a warrant check is made. The parolee is taken to county jail or prison and then must await, without bail, for the parole revocation process wheels to turn. On the very rare occasion I have seen a parolee released pending the hearing with a summons to return at the time of the hearing, but this is extremely rare, in my experience.
The Hearing: What to Expect
At the hearing, there are basic things that will occur. When the parolee first arrives at the hearing, there will be certain people there. Typically, there is at a minimum, the parole officer (though not always), there is a hearing officer (the individual who conducts the hearing), and the parolee. If the parolee is represented, their lawyer will be there. There may also be witnesses there if either the parolee or the parole officer requested that they be there.
Throughought the hearing, various types of evidence will be offered. What objections may be made is beyond the scope of this guide. At the beginning of the hearing, the parole officer will offer into evidence, at the request of the hearing officer, a copy of the certificate of parole. This will be to establish jurisdiction over the parolee. The hearing officer will ask the parolee if they would like their rights read to them or if they will waive the reading of the rights. After that, the hearing officer will go through each violation alleged against the parolee. The parolee will have an opportunity, at this time, to "admit" or "deny" each violation. Later in the hearing the parolee will have an opportunity to explain their side of what happened, if they so choose. After the violations are read and the parolee responds, the hearing officer will take evidence from the parole officer. This may consist of documentary evidence (usually, at a minimum, a copy of a violation report alleging what occured and how the parolee allegedly violated), witnesses, videos, etc. depending on the specific allegations. The parolee, or their lawyer, may object to the evidence as it is offered. The parolee will have a chance to confront and cross-examine any witnesses, testimony, and evidence against them. After the parole officer is finished, it will be the parolee's turn to testify, offer evidence (in the form of testimony, witnesses, affidavits, letters, pictures, etc.) in their favor, and otherwise explain what happened. The parolee does not have to do this; the burden is on the parole officer but it may be helpful depending on the facts of the situation.
After both sides have presented their evidence, the hearing officer will consider everything offered and make a finding. The parole officer has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the parolee violated a term or condition of their parole. Only one violation is necessary. If there is no finding of a preponderance of the credible evidence (similar to a "not guilty" in a criminal case) then the hearing officer will recommend to the Board of Pardons and Paroles that parole not be revoked. If there is a finding that a preponderance of the credible evidence exists to show the parolee violated a condition of their parole, the hearing moves on to the "adjustment phase" of the hearing and evidence will be presented on how the parolee has done on parole.
At the adjustment phase, the parole officer will offer into evidence an adjustment statement. It will specify how the parolee has done on parole. It will contain evidence criminal history, how the parole is doing on any fees, fines, and restitution they may owe, how the parolee's home situation is, if there is any indication of drug use, how the parolee has complied with any special conditions of parole they may have, and how the parolee has otherwise done on parole. It will also indicate if the parolee are eligible for electronic monitoring should they be continued on supervision and released and if the parolee is eligible for ISF (Intermediate Sanction Facility). Also, there should be indication of where the parolee will reside if they are released and if it has been verified. The parole officer will offer any other evidence that they may have and the parolee will have an opportunity to question them about this evidence. After that, the parolee will have an opportunity to present any evidence they may have, in the form of affidavits, letters, witnesses, etc. When both sides are finished, the hearing officer will request the recommendation of the parole officer and close the hearing. All of the evidence, along with the hearing officer's recommendation and notes, will be forwarded to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to vote on what will happen. It will take them, typically, 2-3 weeks to make a decision at which point the parolee will receive information as to what their conclusion was and why. If parole is revoked, the parolee will have 60 days from the date of the decision to request that the hearing be reopened (beyond the scope of this guide).
I hope this guide has been helpful. It is merely for informative purposes and does not create any attorney/client relationship. The specifics of any individual case can vary wildly and I would always recommend an attorney be consulted to help with the process. This is merely a guideline and the actual way a particular hearing unfolds can vary depending on the evidence, the hearing officer, the parole officer, the parolee, and many other variables. Parole can be a very complicated and difficult position to be in and a knowledgeable parole lawyer can help ease some of that burden.