While Massachusetts has some of the most stringent criminal laws in the country, there is a system in place for reviewing and potentially overturning convictions based on flawed evidence or testimony. Anyone convicted of a serious crime within the last 80 years is eligible for parole.
However, earning parole isn’t for everyone. It takes hard work, determination, and the will to be a better person in society.
Individuals must earn their release through good behavior and persuade the parole board. Parole allows people to reintegrate into society and reconnect with family and friends.
Meanwhile, things like association with an old friend can be interpreted by the parole officer as association with criminals. A misunderstanding with the parole officer can occur and endanger a parolee’s freedom, but there are ways to avoid this, such as hiring the best legal counsel.
Here’s everything you need to know about parole violations in Massachusetts.
What Constitutes a Parole Violation in Massachusetts?
The terms probation and parole are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. While probation is a substitute for incarceration, parole is a continuation of the sentence following incarceration.
The length of time spent in prison before being eligible for parole is determined by state or jurisdiction law. The Parole Commission’s decisions are usually subject to conditions. To avoid jail, a parolee must adhere to these conditions:
- Don’t commit any more crimes.
- Avoid making any contact with the victim or witnesses of the crime for which you were imprisoned for. Also, avoid communication with any person connected to the crime a parolee committed is prohibited unless done through official channels.
- Do not use any controlled substances, including alcohol without a prescription from a licensed physician.
- Commit to random drug testing and random searches on anything connected to the parolee at any time.
- Attend all required counseling sessions.
- Pay all court-ordered restitution in accordance with the court’s terms and conditions.
There are numerous possible requirements or conditions for successful parole completion, and failure to meet any of the conditions can result in a parole violation. Individuals must therefore avoid even minor infractions because the consequences can be severe.
Parole Commission has the authority to determine whether a violation is serious enough to warrant a return to prison.
Remember that a parole officer has the right to investigate any alleged parole violation. Before any suspension or revocation of parole, there must be “good cause” to believe there was a violation of a parolee’s release terms.
As in the original trial, the stakes are usually high. Revocation of parole can result in incarceration.
The United States Supreme Court has established due process requirements for parole revocation hearings that all states must follow. In the event of a contested hearing, a parolee may call witnesses to testify.
Grounds for Parole Revocation in Massachusetts
The parole board can revoke parole when:
- Parolee has committed or is about to commit a crime
- One or more parole conditions have been violated
- Failure to comply with a parole officer’s request
- Parolee provided fraudulent or false information to the parole board
Parole can be revoked, and incarceration is ordered after other alternatives to prison have been considered.
Parole Violation Penalties
The court can impose various penalties on people found guilty of a parole violation depending on previous violations and the particular parole conditions violated.
Parole violation penalties can include:
- Extended parole term which cannot go beyond the original sentence term
- Parole revocation and a return to incarceration
- Additional charges for crimes perpetrated while on parole
- Fines for parole violation
However, bargaining for better alternatives to incarceration is usually on the table.
Temporary Custody of a Parolee
Temporary custody is a possibility when the parole officer believes a parolee has engaged or is engaging in a crime.
Other factors that frequently result in temporary custody include affiliation with a criminal organization or violation of parole conditions. A misunderstanding with the parole officer may occur from time to time, and the parole board may interpret it as a detainable offense.
Then a parole officer issues a warrant with the consent of a superior officer, such as a parole supervisor, before taking a parolee into temporary custody.
However, authorized detention cannot exceed 15 days and has no bearing on the original sentence.
Parole Violation Hearing
A parole violation hearing can be initiated by two people: a parole officer and a prosecutor. The two have considerable leeway in determining what constitutes a violation and whether to initiate parole violation proceedings.
To determine whether there was a violation of parole, a preliminary and final hearing must be held.
The preliminary parole violation hearing is held in a timely manner before a parole board hearing officer. A parolee is given a written notice of a preliminary hearing at least 48 hours before the hearing, which includes details of the charges, location, date and time of the hearing.
If a parolee is not in custody, they are given notice and given a reasonable amount of time to prepare. A defense attorney can assist with preparations and planning a strong case to help a parolee avoid returning to prison.
During the hearing, documentary evidence and witnesses may be presented, and witnesses cross-examined. Although it is not required, a parolee may respond to questions and make statements.
A hearing officer then submits a parole violation report to the parole board, which decides whether to accept or reject the findings.
If the board finds probable cause, the case proceeds to final hearing. The goal is to determine whether there was a parole violation and whether there is sufficient grounds for revocation of parole.
A majority vote of the parole board determines the final decision.
Handle Parole Violation with Riccio Law
Penalties for a parole violation in Massachusetts are serious, and they can involve re-incarceration. Therefore, it is very important a parolee takes this part of their criminal sentence seriously.
There are a number of actions that can result in a parole violation. If you’re unsure whether you have grounds for a parole violation, don’t hesitate to reach out to Massachusetts Parole Violation Attorneys at Riccio Law to speak with a trained legal professional.
People living in Greater Boston and Southern Massachusetts can benefit from our vast experience in parole violations.
Contact us if you believe you have violated your parole and want to know what penalties you could face.