Waterbury Parole Attorney Tim Moynahan
The Moynahan Law Firm – Defending You Against Allegations of Parole Violations
Individuals who are accused of violating the conditions of their parole face incarceration, which means any proceedings held to determine their guilt must meet the due process requirements of the U.S. Constitution. However, there is one major difference between a parole board hearing and a criminal trial. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. There is no such burden in a parole board hearing, and panels make their decisions based on what they think most likely happened. This means that a parolee accused of committing a crime could be returned to custody by a parole board even if they are acquitted by a jury.
While the standard of proof may be lower in a parole board hearing, the criminal defense attorney’s role is much the same. Attorneys scrutinize evidence and question witnesses, and they also advocate on behalf of alleged parole violators in pursuit of the best possible outcome for them.
Probation, Standard Parole and Special Parole
Probation and parole are both forms of supervised release that are designed to ease the burden on the corrections system and reintegrate criminal offenders into society. Supervised release is called probation when it takes place after an offender’s sentence, and it is called parole when it takes place during the sentence. Connecticut has two types of parole:
- Standard parole: Offenders become eligible for standard parole once they have served a designated part of their sentence. Individuals convicted of committing violent crimes complete more of their sentences than those convicted of nonviolent offenses. Parole boards decide to grant or deny parole based on the facts of the case, the nature of the crime and the offender’s conduct while incarcerated.
Parole is usually granted when offenders take responsibility for their actions, show sincere remorse and have taken steps to prepare for a life outside prison. When an individual on standard parole is accused of violating the terms of their supervised release, a parole board hearing is scheduled to weigh the evidence and determine an appropriate outcome.
- Special Parole: Special parole is the name given to a period of supervised release that is included in an offender’s original sentence. Judges usually add special parole to custodial sentences when offenders have been uncooperative with authorities in the past. Parole officers can return individuals on special parole to prison when they have good reason to believe that they violated the terms of their supervised release. Parole boards do not meet to review these decisions.
Reasons for Denying Parole
Both probation and parole are considered privileges and not rights, which means judges and parole boards may choose not to grant supervised release even when offenders seem to meet the requirements. Factors that could lead a parole board to deny supervised release include:
- The crime involved: Individuals convicted of committing murder, arson murder, felony murder, capital felony murder or aggravated sexual assault are not eligible for parole in Connecticut.
- Disciplinary problems: The Connecticut Department of Corrections has set up Chronic Disciplinary Units in the state’s prisons to deal with offenders who refuse to obey the rules. Being placed in one of these units would lead to parole being denied.
- Security concerns: Offenders who are designated security risks are unlikely to be granted parole.
Parole and Probation Violations
Individuals on probation or parole are sometimes returned to custody because they committed crimes or missed appointments, but these orders are usually issued after offenders have failed to meet the conditions of their supervised release. These conditions are imposed based on the facts of the case, and they are designed to protect the public and help offenders re-enter society. Common parole and probation conditions include:
- Toxicology testing: Individuals convicted on drunk driving or narcotics charges are usually required to submit to regular breath and urine tests. Drinking, using drugs or refusing to take a toxicology test could lead to a violation.
- Counselling sessions: Offenders may be required to attend counselling sessions to help them deal with substance abuse, addiction or anger management issues.
- Victim impact panels: Connecticut residents convicted of driving while under the influence may be ordered to attend a victim impact panel. These sessions give crime victims the chance to speak about the consequences of drunk driving.
- Consent to searches: Parole officers do not have to obtain a warrant to search offenders and their residences and vehicles.
- Halfway House: Individuals who committed serious crimes and spent decades behind bars may be required to spend some of their time on parole living in a halfway house.
- Social restrictions: Individuals on parole are not permitted to associate with known criminals, and they may be ordered to avoid certain areas. Restrictions designed to reduce recidivism are common in cases involving gang members.
Parole Board Hearings
Parole board hearings are held to determine whether or not the offender violated the terms of their supervised release and what action should be taken if they did. Parole boards can order offenders returned to custody or modify the terms of their parole. Before making this decision, the panel considers the nature of the original crime, the seriousness of the violation and the offender’s behavior and general demeanor. Individuals accused of violating the terms of their parole are entitled to legal representation by the U.S. Constitution because their liberty is at stake. This is a wise path to take as there are several things attorneys can do during parole board hearings:
- Question parole officers: The parole officer’s testimony is usually very important. Attorneys could ask probing questions to uncover bias and separate assumption from fact.
- Question witnesses: Attorneys may press witnesses when their accounts are incomplete or inconsistent. This kind of questioning is particularly important because testimony that would be considered too unreliable for a criminal trial may be admitted in a parole board hearing.
- Introduce evidence: Attorneys could introduce evidence, such as work or school attendance records, to contradict the parole officer’s claims.
- Call witnesses: Attorneys could call on friends, family members and co-workers to speak on behalf of offenders and paint their actions in a different light.
- Ask for leniency: Before parole boards hand down their decisions, defense attorneys may urge them to take a lenient approach. Attorneys could mention mitigating factors and remind the parole board that the primary goal of the criminal justice system should be to rehabilitate rather than punish offenders.
Put an Expert Defense Lawyer on Your Side
If you have been accused of violating the terms of your probation or parole, you have the right to ask an expert criminal defense attorney to contest the charges. If you are looking for a lawyer with experience in this area to fight on your behalf, you should contact Tim Moynahan at the Moynahan Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation.
You can call the Moynahan Law Firm at (203) 597-6364
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