Josh Harper | October 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense
Are you wondering how parole works in Texas?
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has seven members, each appointed by the Governor to six-year terms. The Parole Board votes on who will be released from prison and put on parole for the remainder of their sentence. The Board has discretion to grant or withhold parole; it is not a right.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help improve your chances of being granted parole. They can also help you fight against a revocation.
How Do You Become Eligible for Parole in Texas?
Eligibility for parole is based on the percentage of the sentence you have served. For most crimes, an offender is eligible once their time served and good-time credits add up to 1/4 of their total sentence.
However, parole eligibility requirements and good time calculations may vary based on the year in which you were convicted.
When you arrive in prison, you should be provided with a time calculation sheet showing your tentative eligibility date. You can also contact the Unit Parole Officer if you have questions about your eligibility date.
You do not need to apply for parole in Texas; the Parole Board will start the process. Once you are eligible, you will have a parole interview during which you can discuss your rehabilitation and present plans for your future if you are granted parole. A lawyer can help you prepare for a successful interview to improve your chances.
After the parole interview, the Board will submit a report to a Parole Panel which typically consists of three people who will vote on the parole decision. For more serious crimes, the full seven-person panel will vote. A 2/3 majority vote is required to receive parole.
Unfortunately, there is no formal hearing that you can attend to argue for your release. The Parole Panel votes individually and privately.
What Factors are Considered for Granting Parole?
Becoming eligible for parole in Texas is only half the battle. The parole board must also be satisfied that you deserve to be released on parole.
The parole board considers the following factors:
- A Risk Assessment (age, criminal record, behavior, education/career training, danger to community)
- An Offense Severity Score
- Letters of Support
- Future plans
When the parole panel votes, they do not simply vote yes or no. They have many options, including voting to release when eligible, release on a specific future date, release after completion of treatment, deny parole, or deny parole and specify a future review date.
A lawyer can help you prepare for your parole interview and can also help you prepare a parole packet to improve your chances of obtaining parole. This may include securing letters of support and other important information for your benefit.
What Happens if You Violate Parole?
Parole is a form of community supervision in Texas, much like probation. Just like probation, parole can be revoked for violations of the terms of parole or for new violations of the law. Parole violations often result in a warrant for the offender’s arrest.
If you violate a term of parole or get in trouble with the law while on supervision, the Parole Board may impose any of the following penalties:
- Imposing new conditions of supervision
- Imposing a jail sentence to punish you
- Revoking parole and reinstating the prison sentence
Not all violations result in formal hearings — sometimes, a minor sanction occurs without a formal hearing.
However, for more serious violations, you have the right to a preliminary hearing regarding the violation. At the hearing, the Hearing Officer decides if there is probable cause for a violation. If so, a revocation hearing will be recommended. At a revocation hearing, the evidence will be reviewed in more detail for the board to determine whether or not to revoke parole.
If you are facing a revocation, you have the right to an attorney, and it is crucial that you obtain one. A parole violation is a very serious thing, as it can lead to many more years in prison. Do not let the Parole Board violate your rights. Contact a criminal defense lawyer for help fighting the allegations against you.