Parole and Probation
You have been sentenced to probation or a split sentence involving some prison time or perhaps many years of prison time. Now what?
The concerns, the limitations on your freedom, the additional requirements you have to comply with will follow you until your case is terminated. That means, once you are off probation. In the meantime, any "substantive" violation, meaning a violation of law or any "technical" violation meaning non reporting, failing a drug screen or failure to comply with other conditions of probation could result in a revocation leading to incarceration or additional conditions which may infringe upon your liberties like curfews, monitors or inpatient drug rehabilitation programs.
In Georgia, in most cases, assuming you have complied with all special conditions of probation, your reporting continues for two years and then your case converts to non reporting. But non-reporting does not mean that your case is over. It means simply you don't have to report but that you must still not violate any law and if you do, you may have to go back to court on a probation revocation. In the event you are facing a probation revocation, it is critical that you have good legal representation. If the violation is clear you need a good lawyer who can help mitigate the damage. If the violation is an allegation involving a new charge then you will want an aggressive lawyer who will fight for you and who will attempt to "prove" that in fact you are not guilty of the alleged offense so that the probation petition will be dismissed.
When you are on parole in Georgia you will also be "supervised". And if you get charged with another crime, fail to report or violate other conditions, you will likewise be subject to a parole revocation. This is the only time you really get a "parole hearing." If your parole is revoked, your entire sentence for which you were on parole will be revoked and you will serve the remaining time until the Board of Pardons and Paroles again determines that you are worthy of parole. Again, if you are facing a parole revocation, it is a good idea to at least speak to a lawyer about the process.
If you are convicted of an offense, sentenced to prison time and the offense is not one in which parole is not possible, then you will be eligible for parole at some time. The Parole Board considers many factors in determining your parole eligibility and has designed a grid which essentially takes into account two things (1) the seriousness of the charges and (2) your risk factors which include such things as your age when the offense was committed, whether you were employed at the time, how many charges you are convicted of, whether the offense was drug related, etc. In addition, there are "statutory factors" which will be factored in where, for example, state law requires you to serve a minimum of one third of your sentence like in the case of drug trafficking. The grid is only a guideline however and the Board can depart from it- upward and downward. And therefore getting the right information to the Board may be very helpful to your case.
Inmates with serious crimes including those serving life sentences (with the possibility of parole) may even get "denied" parole even though they are statutorily eligible for parole. Consider for instance the case of someone who in 1997 received a life sentence and was told that he would "get out" in 14 years because at that time a life sentence meant that you were "statutorily eligible" for parole after 14 years. But, that inmate was then denied parole in 2011. That inmate has learned something important- That statutory eligibility only means the minimum time to serve, it does not mean the maximum time to serve. Institutional conduct and other achievements are critically important here as are other factors that can be brought before the Board.
Georgia has one of the highest prison populations in the nation. But, it doesn't mean that you should think that there is nothing that can be done to help you. As a lawyer who has significant experience with the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I may be able to assist you, or someone close to you, in these instances by putting the right information in front of the Board to consider prior to the Board making a parole decision. In the case of a person who has had parole denied, "substantive and meaningful" information can be put before the Board in an attempt to have the Board reconsider its denial. Don't wait however, the best time is NOW!