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Parole Violations in Phoenix
What is Parole?
Parole is a conditional release of a prisoner before he or she completes the sentence imposed in their criminal case. The release is conditional because in most cases, there are conditions that must be met in order to continue to stay out of jail or prison. A violation of any of those conditions could result in your parole being revoked.
Parole and probation are not the same. Probation is granted prior to the defendant being incarcerated for the offense of which he or she was convicted.
The purpose of parole in Arizona is, in a general sense, to allow a defendant who has been incarcerated to reenter society. Unfortunately, the Arizona parole system is not graded very highly as compared to the parole system in other states. According to a recent study, Arizona ranked among the worst dozen states when assessing the fairness and equity of the parole system. In part because of this, having the right lawyer by your side can make a huge difference if you are charged with violating the terms of your parole.
Examples of Parole Violations
Once you have been granted parole, whether you have served the necessary minimum time or fall within any of the exceptions that might allow an early release, you must still comply with the conditions of your parole. Failure to do so could lead to being “violated.” In that case, the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) is authorized to issue a warrant for your arrest under A.R.S. 31-415.
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The list of potential parole violations is extensive. Examples include failure to comply with one or more specific condition of your parole. Those conditions might include, by way of illustration, the following:
- Attendance at and /or completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program.
- Failing a drug test.
- Attendance at and/or completion of a therapy program such as anger management.
- Drinking alcohol when prohibited from doing so.
- Having contact with a person in violation of the terms of your parole.
Even if you are not required to attend a treatment program, and even if you have no problem with drugs or alcohol, you can still be charged with a parole violation for any one of a number of reasons. For example, you could be violated for:
- Commission of a new crime.
- Failure to report for a court date.
- Failure to report to your parole officer.
- Failure to pay your fines or restitution.
If you are accused of violating parole, you need to protect yourself from being sent back to prison and possibly serving out the term of your original sentence.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If you are charged with a parole violation in Arizona, you are entitled to a hearing, unless you waive that right, or the court determines that you are guilty of committing a subsequent criminal offense. While the purpose of the hearing, as with a criminal trial, is to ascertain whether you violated the law (or the terms of your parole), there are significant differences between the two:
- Burden of Proof. In a criminal trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a parole hearing, the violation must be proved only by a preponderance of the evidence, that is, is it more likely or not that you violated the terms of your parole.
- Rules of Evidence. The rules of evidence applicable in criminal trials does not apply at a parole violation hearing. There, any reliable evidence, including hearsay, may be considered.
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Because of these differences, it is generally easier to find that you have committed a parole violation than that you have committed a crime. This makes the presence of a criminal defense attorney essential for any defendant appearing at a parole violation hearing. An attorney can also negotiate with the prosecution prior to the formal resolution of the case.
What Happens if I Have Violated Parole?
An attorney can also help even if it is determined that you have violated your parole. The fact that you were found to have committed a violation of parole still leaves the question of what the penalty, if any, will be. The court could continue your parole as it is, amend or add additional conditions to your parole, or revoke your parole and send you back to prison.
At The Feldman Law Firm, an experienced criminal defense attorney will represent you during the entire process, including any court appearances. While no one can guarantee a result in these cases, we can provide you with a thorough and aggressive defense to ensure that your rights are protected, and that any and all defenses will be raised and pursued to the maximum extent possible. Contact us as soon as possible if you have been, or if you believe you are about to be, charged with a parole violation.