How Does New Jersey Handle Parole Violations?
Posted on: March 3, 2022
If you have been convicted of a crime and imprisoned in New Jersey, you may qualify for early release through a parole program provided you meet a strict set of requirements. In New Jersey, you may be eligible for parole after serving one-third of your sentence, or another statutory minimum. If your crime falls under the No Early Release Act, you will have to serve 85 percent of your sentence to be eligible for parole. The New Jersey State Parole Board holds over 20,000 parole hearings each year and grants parole to the majority of inmates.
Parole is the process allowing inmates to be released from prison early rather than serve the entirety of their sentence if they meet certain conditions. Many factors are considered in parole decisions, including time served, good behavior, rehabilitation attempts, the offense and prior convictions, victim impact statements, and other factors. Once released, you must adhere to all of the conditions of your parole set by the New Jersey State Parole Board. Violation of these conditions can have serious consequences.
What Are Typical Parole Conditions?
Once parole is granted, you must report directly to your assigned parole officer, who will go through the conditions of your release. Conditions can be strict and vary, depending on the severity of your offense, but some common conditions include:
- Reporting regularly to your parole officer
- Keeping the officer informed of where you are living and your employment
- Obtaining permission to travel outside the state or country and waiving extradition if you travel without permission
- Adhering to a curfew
- Informing your parole officer of any arrests or traffic tickets you receive
- Agreeing not to own or possess any weapons or firearms
- Agreeing not to use controlled substances, undergo random drug testing, and attend any required substance abuse treatment
- Attending mental health treatment, if required
- Having no contact with the victim of your crime and any others included in your parole conditions
- Consent to random unannounced home visits and searches by your parole officer without a search warrant
- Completing community service
- Making required payments, such as child support, if required
Conditions of parole may include many other requirements, particularly for sex offenders and those who committed crimes against children. Failing to comply with the conditions of your parole may prompt your officer to report a violation, which could lead to your parole being revoked.
Maintaining a good relationship with your parole officer is important. Although you should make every effort to comply with all the terms of your parole, should you miss a meeting or have a minor violation, your parole officer may only give you a warning rather than reporting it if you have established a good rapport and trust.
What Is Lifetime Supervised Parole?
Conviction of certain crimes can result in sentences that include lifetime supervised parole in New Jersey. These are:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual conduct
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Leading a child pornography network
New Jersey law states that parole supervision for life (PSL) is mandatory for those convicted of certain sexual offenses. Under lifetime supervised parole, the parolee is required to follow strict rules determined by the judge and/or the parole officer. Individuals under supervised parole are prohibited from leaving the state without permission and, depending on the crimes, the rules could include:
- No possession of devices with internet capability
- No use of social media
- No drug or alcohol consumption
- No positive drug tests
- No missing of scheduled counseling sessions
- No missing of scheduled drug testing appointments
- No contact of any kind with minors
- Not living within a certain distance of a school or park
- Adhering to a curfew
- No contact with victims of the crime for which you were convicted
The New Jersey legislature enacted Megan’s Law in 1994, which requires those convicted of certain sexual-related offenses to register as a sex offender with their local police department following their release from prison. Under Megan’s Law, sentencing guidelines permit juvenile offenders under the age of 18 to be ordered with lifetime supervised parole, although it is not always for life.
Offenders under the age of 14 at the time of the crime can apply for removal from the sex offender registry and lifetime supervised parole at the age of 18. Offenders aged 14 or older at the time of the crime can petition to be removed from the registry 15 years after the last conviction or release from prison, provided they have no convictions for additional offenses, including parole violation. Parole violations during this time make it more difficult to be removed from lifetime parole. Additionally, individuals convicted of sexual crimes with lifetime supervised parole are not eligible to have the criminal record expunged in New Jersey.
Successful release of lifetime supervised parole requires presenting clear and convincing evidence that the parolee no longer poses a threat to the safety of others. To demonstrate this evidence, the expert testimony of a psychological counselor that the offender has been rehabilitated can be introduced. Evidence showing effort to gain and maintain employment or completion of a higher education degree is often helpful as well.
If you are charged with a lifetime parole violation, you do not have the right to a jury trial. If the New Jersey State Patrol Board determines you are guilty, it can revoke your parole and return you to prison immediately.
What Happens if I Violate My Parole Conditions?
Violating your parole can have serious consequences, including arrest and returning to prison. Violations such as committing another crime, having contraband or weapons in your home, or probable cause that you may travel out of state without permission are cause for your parole officer to issue a warrant for your arrest. Should you be arrested on a parole-based warrant, you can be held in jail without bail until your scheduled parole hearing.
If you are arrested on parole violations, you will not have the right to criminal court or jury trial. You will be assigned a hearing officer by the State Parole Board’s Revocation Hearing Unit to oversee your hearing in parole revocation. Additionally, in contrast to criminal cases, your violation does not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
You do, however, have the right to an attorney. During parole violation hearings, your parole officer has little influence as to whether your parole will be revoked. In these cases, your lawyer will need to prove the allegation of parole violation is false or show the violation was not serious enough to warrant revocation. You also have the right to present evidence, confront and cross-examine witnesses, call your own witnesses, and testify on your own behalf.
During the revocation hearing, the hearing officer will determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation and what penalties will be administered. Penalties vary based on the violation but may include stricter conditions of your parole going forward, returning to prison to serve the remainder of your sentence, or serving the remainder, along with a new prison sentence if you committed a crime as part of the violation.
In New Jersey, judges have few options when it comes to violations of parole, so if you are found guilty of parole violations, you are likely to be returned to prison to serve the remainder of your sentence. When charged with parole violations, you should always consult with a parole lawyer to discuss possible defenses against revocation and other consequences.
Monmouth County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ellis Law Represent Parolees Charged with Parole Violations
Having your parole revoked will result in you returning to prison to serve the remainder of your sentence and carries the possibility of an additional sentence. The Monmouth County criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law are the skilled parole lawyers you need to help defend yourself. For a free, confidential consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.