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In The News

Top Criminal Attorney Matthew Ruff Explains Parole Violations

California recently amended its laws allowing many felony offenders to be placed back in the community to serve out their sentences. The program is called Community Supervision and it allows those participants to receive day for day credit towards their sentence as long as they do not re-offend.

Once a person has been released from prison, he or she is placed on parole for a minimum of one year following the release. A violation of parole is an action taken against a parolee that fails to comply with the terms of his or her terms of parole, this includes the failure of the individual to refrain from committing a new criminal offense. In the past decade parole revocations have been a major prosecutorial tool used to punish those who have been arrested and charged with new offenses. The advantage to the prosecution is the lack of procedural protections afforded the accused. When a formal parole violation is filed in conjunction with a new case, the District Attorney has tremendous leverage to force a plea bargain consistent with the District Attorneys terms.

Parole violations typically involve various layers of procedures which are governed by the California Department of Corrections. The first action is that the state prison officials or parole officers make a determination that the individual has in fact violated the terms of his parole. Second, is the initiation of formal parole revocation hearing proceedings. In many cases, the Parole Board may make a preliminary decision to revoke parole based on probable cause contained within the four corners of a police report or parole officer's declaration when the parolee is not already in custody. Once a person is in jail and taken before the Court, formal proceedings are instituted. Certain minimal constitutional protections are given to a person under these circumstances such as the right to be advised of the basis of the revocation and the right to be heard concerning any possible defenses or rebuttal to the allegations set forth in the pleadings or parole officers report.

When the parole officer concludes a reason exists to revoke or violate a parole and the person is not in custody, a letter or other correspondence is sent indicating the date and time of any Parole hearing on the matter. On the date given a Parole hearing officer can make initial decisions concerning the parole status and can temporarily revoke parole and remand or incarcerate the person pending a formal hearing. The Judge also has the inherent discretion to allow O.R. release which means the person can be allowed to stay out on a signed promise to re-appear for any future hearings. The importance of having a lawyer at this stage cannot be understated. An experienced lawyer experienced with parole violation proceedings can make the difference between incarceration and freedom.

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