What Is Felony Parole?
Parole is the early release of an incarcerated felon before the end of the felon's sentence. Courts do not parole individuals. Courts may grant probation instead of imposing a jail or prison term. But once a court sends a convicted felon to jail or prison, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is the entity that grants or denies parole, releasing the felon early or holding the felon to complete the imposed imprisonment. In making that weighty decision, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles uses scoring guidelines after considering the following factors:
- any criminal history indicating a violent or assaultive pattern;
- the nature and brutality of the convicted offense;
- substance abuse pattern and history;
- the adjustment to prison terms and conditions;
- willingness to participate in specialized rehabilitation;
- the time served relative to the convicted offense;
- any offenses while incarcerated;
- any gang participation showing a security threat; and
- any other documented grounds.
Felony Parole's Benefits
Felony parole accomplishes several good things. From a societal standpoint, parole relieves prisons of overcrowding, saves the public the high cost of incarceration, rewards earnest rehabilitation, and demonstrates mercy. From an individual standpoint, parole releases the convicted person to society to restore family relationships, resume education, and pursue employment. Parole turns the harshest and most-costly of all sanctions, long imprisonment, into the greatest of reliefs and benefits, productive liberty.
Conditions for Felony Parole
Felony parole necessarily comes with conditions. Texas Administrative Code Section 145.22 requires that the parole board give every released offender a written statement listing parole conditions in clear and intelligible language. The released offender must agree to and accept the conditions before release, although the parole panel may impose more conditions after release if they notify the offender in writing. The parole rules condition parole on full compliance with all conditions. Parole conditions include regular meetings with a local parole officer who actively monitors the parolee's compliance and may initiate revocation proceedings for violations.
Felony parole in Texas can include both standard conditions and special conditions. Not to go within five hundred feet of a child safety zone is a standard Texas parole condition, as are payment of a monthly fee, residence in the county of conviction, no contact with the crime victim, and drug testing. Regular visits with the parole officer and avoiding crime are other common parole conditions. Electronic monitoring to confirm the parolee's location 24/7 is an example of a special Texas parole condition. Tampering with the monitor would violate that condition. No-contact rules, sex-offender registration, restitution, vocational training, substance-abuse treatment, and no-internet rules are other special conditions.
Felony Parole Revocation Hearings
The Supreme Court's 1972 decision in Morrissey v. Brewer requires that states grant parolees due process before revoking their parole for a DWI violation. The state parole board, though, need only provide administrative due process, not a full court hearing. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles holds three kinds of administrative hearings on whether to revoke parole for a DWI violation or other violations, at which Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy can aggressively and effectively represent the parolee facing revocation for an alleged DWI violation:
- a preliminary hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to proceed to a revocation hearing. Only offenders with pending DWI charges or unfiled DWI allegations may get a preliminary hearing;
- a revocation hearing to determine whether a preponderance of the evidence shows the offender violated conditions of parole. Offenders for whom a preliminary examination found probable cause of a DWI or who already suffered a DWI conviction get a revocation hearing; or
- a mitigation hearing to allow the offender to explain why the Board should not revoke parole.
Felony Parole Revocation Rights
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles procedures guarantee parolees certain rights at revocation hearings. Those rights give the parolee facing a revocation hearing because of a DWI charge substantial opportunities to contest revocation, especially with the skilled representation of 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy. The guaranteed rights include:
- personal service of written notice of alleged parole violations;
- full disclosure of all the evidence against the offender before the hearing;
- to retain an attorney of the parolee's own choosing;
- to tell the Hearing Officer in person what happened;
- to present other evidence, including affidavits, letters, and documents;
- to subpoena witnesses through the Parole Officer;
- to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses;
- to receive a written report describing the evidence for revocation.
The Risk of a DWI Charge Against a Felony Parolee
Parolees gain the liberty to move freely about within their parole's standard and special conditions. That liberty can come with common temptations. Prisoners gradually adjust to prison conditions, the primary one of which is their constraint, a complete lack of liberty. Parolees can also take time to adjust to parole conditions, the primary one of which is their freedom, a complete lack of constraint. One of a parolee's several strong temptations can be to imbibe alcohol, especially if the parolee has addiction or substance abuse issues. The worst way to celebrate one's release on parole is to drink and drive, but DWI charges against parolees do happen.
The Impact of a DWI Charge on Felony Parole
A DWI charge is almost certain to violate a felony parolee's parole conditions. Common parole conditions include not committing crimes and not abusing alcohol. A DWI charge suggests evidence of both crime and alcohol abuse. Importantly, the DWI arrest and charge are not in themselves evidence of crime and alcohol abuse. The arrest and charge may be entirely mistaken. Yet, a felony parolee charged with a DWI is very likely to face swift and serious action from the parole officer as soon as the parole officer finds out with the filing of the DWI charges.
Common parole violations like missing a scheduled meeting with the parole officer or missing a community-service obligation may cause little more than a ripple in parole, perhaps a write-up and admonishment or some clarification and tightening of the interpretation of parole rules and conditions. But a DWI charge is sufficiently serious of a parole violation as to place the parolee at risk of losing parole to recommitment to the penal institution to complete the sentence. Revocation of parole is not a foregone conclusion with a DWI charge, but it is a substantial risk, every bit warranting retaining national DWI expert Doug Murphy.
Possible Parole Violation Outcomes
Obviously, the goal of a parolee charged with a DWI crime is to avoid the parole's revocation. Continued supervision on parole, with or without some form of graduated sanction, is indeed one of the possible outcomes of a parole revocation hearing. The other two outcomes are progressively less desirable. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles expressly authorizes these three possible outcomes of a parole revocation hearing:
- “The offender may be continued on supervision with or without graduated sanctions”;
- “The offender may be incarcerated in an Intermediate Sanction Facility or transferred to a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility for a limited period of time while remaining on supervision”; or
- “The offender's parole or mandatory supervision may be revoked and the offender returned to prison.”
Factors Determining Parole Revocation
Whether the parole panel decides to continue the parole, transfer to a halfway house, or revoke the parole to return the parolee to prison depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. Texas Govt. Code §508.252 lists these factors to guide the parole panel in whether to impose the most severe sanction for a DWI violation, which would be parole revocation:
- whether the parolee suffered arrest for a new offense;
- whether a self-authenticating document shows a violation of a condition;
- whether reliable evidence proves behavior posing a danger to society; and
- whether administrative or other error led to the parolee's release.
A DWI charge plainly implicates the first two of these revocation factors. A parolee facing revocation for a DWI charge should thus retain Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy to dispute the factual grounds for the DWI arrest and charge. The next factor on whether the parolee poses a danger to society is another fighting factor on which a parolee can benefit from attorney Murphy's representation. Drunk driving can pose a societal danger, but whether it does in any single case can depend on each case's circumstances.
The point is that aggressive advocacy at a revocation hearing may make the difference in preserving parole. While the parole panel must focus on the above statutory factors, other factors may also influence the panel to preserve parole. If the public is safe from the parolee's danger, then everyone is generally better off with the parolee at liberty to work, care and provide for dependents, complete counseling, and continue or complete an education, among other beneficial and productive activities.
What Most to Do About a DWI Parole Violation
The most important thing for a felony parolee to do about a DWI charge is to beat the charge. Depending on the grounds for a successful DWI defense, beating the
DWI charge may show that the DWI crime simply did not happen. And if the DWI crime did not happen, then a parole panel should not revoke a felony parolee's parole. The best approach to a DWI parole violation is to immediately retain Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy. As a national DWI expert, attorney Murphy has the demonstrated knowledge, skill, and commitment to defend and defeat DWI charges. A felony parolee facing a DWI violation needs an expert DWI lawyer both to beat the DWI charge and to show that the DWI charge should not revoke the parole. Rely on 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy to preserve felony parole from a DWI violation. Attorney Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today.