How Parole Violations Work in New Jersey
May 11, 2023
Violations of Parole in Burlington County, New Jersey
The United States Bureau of Justice estimates that 3,745,000 or 1 in 69 U.S. adults were on probation or parole in 2021. In New Jersey that same year, the Parole Department supervised 15,590 parolees. While most agree that community supervision reduces incarceration, the facts tell a different story. Nearly 25% of the prison population are probation and parole violators for technical violations of what many consider overly burdensome terms. Nevertheless, those accused of violating the conditions of their parole in Burlington County and throughout New Jersey must understand that the consequences are serious. For this reason, it is extremely necessary to avail yourself of the technicalities of your parole and if you are violated by your parole officer, to enlist help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Our dedicated criminal attorneys defend individuals at parole violation hearings to prevent our clients from being sent back to prison or having their parole revoked in Burlington County and throughout Southern New Jersey. Contact our local office in Marlton for a free consultation at 609-850-8284 and learn more about how parole and violations work in New Jersey below.
Differentiating Parole from Probation in New Jersey
Probation and parole terms keep people out of prison or jail, but are not always easy to obey. The primary difference between probation and parole is avoiding incarceration. A judge may order probation at a defendant’s sentencing hearing, which means the offender stays out of jail or prison and remains in the community under supervision by the probation department. Parole, on the other hand, applies to those released early from their prison term to live in their community under strict control. Either form of community supervision can end with a violation.
When Parole Commonly Happens in New Jersey
Technically, those on parole serve a prison sentence outside the prison walls. In New Jersey, most prisoners finish out their sentences on parole after completing a third of their sentence. However, a sentencing judge can set a parole eligibility date. Under New Jersey law, certain criminal convictions do not allow the possibility of parole, meaning the convicted defendant serves their entire sentence unless they successfully appeal it. Additionally, the No Early Release Act codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 requires a convicted defendant to serve 85% of their sentence before parole eligibility.
How do You Get Released on Parole in Burlington County NJ?
Before release, a prisoner seeking parole appears before the New Jersey parole board. In Burlington County, the parole board is in Mount Holly. There, an inmate presents their case for the board’s approval. The parolee may be eligible by the terms of their sentence or in consideration of good behavior in prison. A board may also look at the prison’s rehabilitation efforts, the offense, past convictions, victim statements, and other considerations.
Additionally, the board considers a potential parolee’s life outside prison and their ability to abide by parole terms. The board is interested in an inmate’s intended employment, housing, or financial means to live a law-abiding life outside prison. Thus, a hopeful parolee should provide specific evidence of money sources, whether a job or social security. When convinced, the parole board approves the release, and the parolee meets with their parole officer, who delivers the parole conditions.
What to Expect when You are on Parole in New Jersey
The terms of release or probation vary from individual to individual. A 34-year-old parolee with little education or skills training may have different terms than a 65-year-old who may collect social security in retirement. And the parole terms consider the parolee’s crime. Thus, a sex offender’s terms may differ from a controlled dangerous substance distributor’s. Parole for the former may be to register as a sex offender and stay away from schools, playgrounds, and the Internet, while a term for the drug seller may be to refrain from socializing with former drug dealer associates.
All parolees must not commit crimes. They must also have employment and housing. Depending on the parolee, housing and employment restrictions may apply. Other parole terms may be attending AA meetings and counseling or abstaining from all drugs and alcohol, even submitting to periodic drug and alcohol testing. Other conditions may include not contacting the victim of domestic violence, paying child support or restitution, reporting traffic tickets and law enforcement encounters, and not possessing firearms.
Standard terms include regular meetings with a parole officer, abiding by a curfew, submitting to random visits by a parole officer who may be looking for evidence of a crime or other violations of parole terms, and obtaining permission for temporary out-of-state travel and relocations. Changes of address and plans to travel out of the state require a parole officer’s or the board’s permission. Thus, one common parole term is an extradition waiver for those who engage in unauthorized travel.
In What Ways can Someone Violate the Conditions of their Parole in NJ?
With such demanding conditions, it is not uncommon for a parolee to violate a term that could land them in prison. For example, staying out past curfew could quickly occur when there is a freeway shutdown, car problems, missing a bus connection, or sleeping in a car or at a friend’s house to avoid getting into a car accident from fatigue. Similar causes could result in missing a meeting with a parole officer. Many challenges are not the fault of the parolee.
For example, a person that the parolee is forbidden to contact shows up uninvited or unexpectedly at the parolee’s door just when the parole officer makes a surprise visit. And difficulty finding a job could violate the terms to remain employed, and moving without permission may also cause parole revocation, even when an emergency move is necessary to get away from those threatening to harm the parolee. Failing a drug test could also lead to parole violations and new prison terms.
If You are Accused of Violating Parole in NJ, What Happens?
When a parole officer believes a violation occurred or will occur, like when the parolee intends to leave the state, they can obtain an arrest warrant, and the police may arrest the violator. The parolee may remain in jail until a parole hearing occurs. Unlike a criminal case, where the accused gets a jury of their peers and the state bears the high beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof, the parole board revokes parole based on clear and convincing evidence.
NJ Procedure for a Violation of Parole Hearing
What constitutes a violation is ultimately up to a parole officer who notifies the parole board and reports the violation. The parole board decides whether or not there is probable cause to revoke parole. The board can forgive violations for events beyond a parolee’s control. And yet, inexcusable violations result in a parole revocation hearing. There, a parolee can employ a criminal defense lawyer to present evidence proving why they did not violate parole terms or should stay on parole.
Potential Outcomes of a VOP Case in Mount Holly NJ
After presenting evidence supporting compliance or a justifiable technical violation, the board decides to revoke, maintain, or maintain the defendant on parole with new conditions. For example, the board may permit a move, extend curfew, or allow an extension to obtain employment. A parole revocation means the parolee returns to prison to serve the rest of their sentence or a longer sentence for additional crimes. A parolee may appeal the parole board’s decision. A successful appeal may reinstate parole as it was or on new terms.
Need a Lawyer to Defend You at a Violation of Parole Hearing in Burlington County?
Consult with our zealous Burlington County criminal defense attorneys when you face possible parole revocation. Your violation may be because of ignorance or circumstances beyond your control. For example, your employer’s shutting their doors may have affected your ability to pay child support or restitution on time. Though a parole violation, our attorneys know how to present evidence to the board about your efforts to obtain new employment and earn the necessary money to meet your obligations. We may argue for maintaining parole with modified terms to assure the board of your compliance, such as GPS monitoring when a violation involves traveling out of county or state for work.
Our lawyers understand how important maintaining your freedom is to you and those you love. Our firm fights aggressively to defend clients accused of violating parole in Bordentown, Mount Laurel, Mount Holly, Evesham, Cinnaminson, Delran, Riverside, Florence, and other Burlington County communities. Call 609-850-8284 now to speak with an attorney on our defense team regarding your upcoming parole violation hearing. The consultation is always provided free of charge.