Parole Violation NC: North Carolina’s Parole and Probation Violations System

NC Parole violation

When you’re charged with a parole violation, it can be a serious offense and one that can get you sent back to prison. This is why it’s important to understand the alleged violation you are facing and the potential consequences.

At the Coolidge Law Firm, our team of criminal defense lawyers can explain the process and the legalities surrounding a parole violation. As advocates for justice and informed legal representation, we recognize the importance of understanding the nuances of parole and probation violations, particularly within the unique framework of North Carolina law. 

Join us as we explore the intricacies of parole violation proceedings, offering clarity and support for those navigating these challenging legal circumstances.

Understanding Parole vs. Probation in NC

In North Carolina, navigating the criminal justice system can be complex, especially when it comes to understanding the differences between parole and probation. Both serve as alternatives to incarceration, but they operate differently and carry distinct implications for individuals under the supervision of the law. 

What is Parole?

Parole is a form of early release from prison that allows individuals to serve the remainder of their sentence under community supervision. It’s typically granted by a parole board or similar authority, based on factors such as good behavior, rehabilitation efforts, and risk assessment. 

Parolees must adhere to specific conditions set by the parole board, which may include regular check-ins with a parole officer, maintaining employment, participating in rehabilitation programs, and refraining from criminal activity. Violating these conditions can result in parole revocation and a return to prison to serve the remainder of the original sentence.

What is Probation?

Probation, on the other hand, is a sentencing option that allows individuals to avoid incarceration altogether or serve a reduced jail or prison sentence under community supervision. Instead of being sent to prison, offenders are placed on probation and must comply with court-ordered conditions for a specified period. 

Similar to parole, these conditions may include meeting regularly with a probation officer, undergoing drug testing, attending counseling or treatment programs, performing community service, and refraining from criminal behavior. Failure to comply with probation terms can lead to probation violation hearings, where the judge may impose additional penalties or revoke probation, resulting in incarceration.

Key Differences Between Parole and Probation

While both parole and probation involve community supervision, there are several key differences between the two:

  • Timing: Parole is granted after a portion of the prison sentence has been served, while probation is typically part of the initial sentencing decision.
  • Origin: Parole decisions are made by a parole board or similar authority, while probation is ordered by a judge as part of the sentencing process.
  • Eligibility: Not all offenders are eligible for parole, whereas probation is a sentencing option available to many individuals convicted of non-violent offenses.
  • Conditions: While both parole and probation come with conditions, the specific requirements may vary based on the individual’s circumstances and the terms set by the parole board or sentencing judge.

When is Parole Granted in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the decision to grant parole is made by the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which operates under the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Parole eligibility and the criteria for granting parole vary depending on the nature of the offense, the individual’s behavior while incarcerated, and other factors.

Eligibility Criteria for Parole

Individuals become eligible for parole after serving a portion of their sentence in prison. However, eligibility criteria and timing can differ based on the specific circumstances of each case. The parole board considers the individual’s behavior while incarcerated, participation in rehabilitation programs, and overall conduct as factors for eligibility.

Parole Review Process

Each case is reviewed individually by the parole board, taking into account factors such as criminal history, behavior in prison, risk assessment, and potential for successful reintegration into society. During the parole review process, victims and their families may have the opportunity to provide input, including expressing concerns or providing feedback to the parole board. 

Discretionary Factors

Parole is not guaranteed, and the parole board exercises discretion in making decisions based on various factors. Factors such as overcrowding in prisons and the availability of resources for supervision in the community may also influence parole decisions.

Decision Criteria for Granting Parole

Parole is granted when the parole board determines that releasing the individual under supervision is appropriate and consistent with the interests of justice, rehabilitation, and public safety.

If parole is granted, the individual will be subject to specific conditions and supervision requirements while transitioning back into the community. These conditions may include regular check-ins with a parole officer, maintaining employment, participating in rehabilitation programs, and refraining from criminal activity.

Parole Eligibility and Process in North Carolina

Under North Carolina General Statute 15A-1271, a prisoner can be eligible for parole at any time as long as the minimum sentence that was imposed has been served. When this occurs, the Parole Commission will schedule a hearing.

When a prisoner is eligible, the commission will review all the information in the case. Victims and any interested contacts will also be notified of the parole hearing.

These factors will be taken into consideration for early release:

  • Nature of the crime committed
  • Previous criminal record
  • Individual’s behavior while incarcerated
  • Participation in prison programs
  • Any input from victims, interested parties, or court officials

The hearing will determine if parole is granted, denied, or needs to be further investigated. When parole is granted, the commission will set the conditions, and the prisoner will get a parole officer as part of their release.

What is a Parole Violation? 

A parole violation occurs when an individual who has been released from prison on parole fails to comply with the terms and conditions of their parole. These terms are established by the parole board or supervising authority and are intended to facilitate the individual’s successful reintegration into society while ensuring public safety. 

When a parolee violates these conditions, it can result in consequences ranging from warnings and additional restrictions to revocation of parole and return to prison.

Types of parole violations include:

  • Technical Violations: Technical violations occur when a parolee breaches the administrative rules and conditions of their parole, such as missing appointments with their parole officer, failing drug tests, or relocating without permission.
  • New Criminal Offenses: Committing new criminal offenses while on parole constitutes a serious violation and can lead to parole revocation.
  • Association with Criminal Elements: Parolees may violate their parole by associating with known criminals or engaging in activities that pose a risk to public safety.

Common Parole Violations

Parole violations can run the gamut. But there are many common ones, including:

  • Breaking curfew
  • Arrest for a new crime
  • Failing to report to your parole officer
  • Traveling without permission
  • Failing a drug test
  • Spending time with other convicted felons who you were ordered to avoid
  • Failing to find work after being released

Drug crimes and substance abuse charges are among the most common offenses. When someone is abusing substances, they may miss a scheduled drug test because they know they will fail.

Penalties For Parole Violations

Besides being sent back to prison, you may face other penalties when you violate parole. 

Penalties can include:

  • Monetary Penalties: Parole violations may result in the imposition of fines by the parole board or supervising authority. These fines serve as a punitive measure and a deterrent against future violations. 
  • Warnings and Sanctions: For minor violations, parole officers may issue warnings or impose additional restrictions, such as increased supervision or mandatory participation in rehabilitation programs.
  • Extension of Supervision Period: In cases where parole is not revoked outright, parole violations may lead to an extension of the parole term. The parole board or supervising authority may determine that additional time under supervision is necessary to address the factors contributing to the violation.
  • Parole Revocation Hearings: Serious violations may result in parole revocation hearings, where the parole board evaluates the circumstances of the violation and decides whether to revoke parole and return the individual to prison.
  • Return to Custody: If parole is revoked, the individual may be returned to prison to serve the remainder of their original sentence or face additional penalties.

What Should You Expect When Accused Of Violating Parole?

Just as easy as parole can be granted, parole can be revoked. When you are accused of violating parole, the parole board can send you back to prison to continue your sentence.

You may have a preliminary hearing to discuss your violation. The typical process follows these steps:

  • The hearing is held within a reasonable time
  • A parolee is given written notice of the preliminary hearing and receives enough time to prepare a defense.
  • Witnesses and documentary evidence may be presented, and witnesses are cross-examined.
  • The hearing officer submits a written report to the parole board once the hearing is over.
  • The board will then decide if it will accept or overrule the hearing officer’s findings.

Parole Revocation Hearing

If the board finds probable cause that you violated the terms, you will have a parole revocation hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court has established due process requirements for parole revocation proceedings that all states must follow. During this hearing, you are eligible to have a lawyer represent you. Your Raleigh defense attorney may challenge the evidence to show doubt of a violation or provide a reasonable cause for the violation.

Once the parole board hears the evidence, it can decide to take one of the following actions:

  • Allow you to remain on parole
  • Modify the conditions of your parole
  • Revoke your parole and send you back to prison

Even when parole is revoked, you can still file an appeal, but there may be limited grounds to do so.

How To Avoid a Parole Violation

When the Parole Commission grants parole, there are conditions of release that you must follow to stay out of prison. Conditional release often includes things like obeying the laws, as well as terms that will be specific to your offense. This can mean staying away from drugs or alcohol in some cases.

You also want to check in with your parole officer when scheduled. Keep a calendar and don’t be late for your appointments. There are also technical requirements, like telling the court if you move or change jobs. 

If you fail to comply with these rules, you may face technical violations. The best way to avoid a parole violation is to comply with the conditions of your release. Violating any parole conditions can result in a hearing and possibly being sent back to prison.

Fight Parole Violation Accusations with a Raleigh Defense Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is facing accusations of parole violation, it’s crucial to act swiftly to protect your rights and your future. The consequences of parole violations can be severe, potentially leading to incarceration, fines, and a lasting impact on your record and opportunities. 

Don’t face these challenges alone. Our team of experienced defense attorneys at the Coolidge Law Firm in Raleigh is here to help you fight parole violation accusations and navigate the legal complexities with confidence. With our knowledge, dedication, and personalized approach, we will work tirelessly to advocate for your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at (919) 239-8448 or filling out the form below to get started.


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