Are you facing a parole violation hearing in the State of Tennessee? If so, you may be wondering if you need to retain the services of a criminal lawyer to accompany you to the hearing. Just as when you are originally accused of a crime, there is no legal requirement that you retain an attorney to represent you at a parole violation hearing; however, given everything that is at stake, it is a wise idea to have an experienced criminal lawyer on your side for a parole violation hearing.
What Is Parole?
People often use the terms “parole” and “probation” interchangeably; however, they are actually two very different things. Probation is a sentencing alternative that is ordered by the sentencing court. You can be sentenced to a period of probation in addition to, or in lieu or, a period of incarceration. Probation is supervised by a probation officer who reports to the original sentencing court. Furthermore, the sentencing court retains jurisdiction over you throughout your probation period. If you violate your probation your will face a probation hearing back in front of the same judge that originally sentenced you to probation.
Parole, on the other hand, follows a period of incarceration in a state or federal prison facility. After an inmate has served his or her mandatory minimum sentence, the inmate becomes eligible for parole, unless the terms of his/her sentence prohibit parole. In the State of Tennessee, the inmate will go in front of the Tennessee Board of Parole which will determine if the inmate is a good candidate for parole. If granted parole, the inmate will remain under the supervision of the Tennessee Department of Corrections while on parole. A parolee will be expected to abide by conditions of parole which may include things such as:
- Reporting to a parole officer as required
- Maintaining employment
- Abiding by a no contact order with a victim
- Not committing any new criminal offenses
A violation of any of the terms and conditions of parole could result in a parole violation being filed with the Board of Parole.
The Consequences of a Parole Violation
If you are called in front of the Board of Parole for an alleged violation of your parole, the consequences should they find you did violate your parole, can be serious. Keep in mind that when you were released onto parole you still had a significant portion of your original sentenced left to serve. Parole allows you to get out of prison early. That original sentence, however, does not go away until you successfully complete your term of parole. Therefore, if you are found to have violated your parole, you could be ordered back to prison to serve the remainder of your original sentence.
How Can a Criminal Lawyer Help?
In an ideal world, you would actually consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal lawyer as soon as you are released from prison to be sure that you understand the terms of your parole. Of course, we don’t always live in an ideal world. If, however, you are notified that your parole may be violated, it is definitely time to consult with a criminal lawyer. A parole violation hearing is not like a criminal trial. The Board of Parole does not have to prove your violation beyond a reasonable doubt. On the contrary, your parole could be violated fairly easily if you do not have a defense for the allegations. Given the fact that you could be facing a return to prison if you are found in violation of the terms and conditions of your parole, consulting with an experienced Tennessee criminal lawyer should be the first thing you do when you are notified of a parole violation.
If you have been notified of a parole violation in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.