In Georgia, “Can I get out of jail earlier than sentenced?”

Posted on behalf of The Nye Law Group on Feb 03, 2014 in Criminal Law

All my clients looking at jail time ask me “can I get out of jail earlier than sentenced.”  The answer is yes based off the parole system.  For more serious crimes and repeat offenders, courts generally sentence defendants to what are known as split sentences.  For example, a defendant can be sentenced to a 20 years sentence with 10 years to “serve” in jail.  That means that the defendant has 10 years to serve in jail, followed by 10 years of probation.

Defendants can get out jail early, however, under the parole system.  O.C.G.A. §42-9-45 is the general statute in Georgia controlling parole.  Here are the General Rules:

-Sentences Under 21 Years: parole eligible after serving 1/3 of sentence or 9 months (whichever is greater).

-Sentences 21 Years or Greater: parole eligible after 7 years.

Here are the exceptions to the statutory general rules noted above:

-First Offender Sentences: if your Defense Attorney asks, and the sentencing judge grants the request, a defendant may be IMMEDIATELY eligible for parole pursuant §O.C.G.A. 17-10-1(b) if sentenced under the Georgia’s First Offenders Act REGARDLESS of length of sentence of imprisonment.

-Serious Violent Felonies Pursuant OCGA 17-10.6.1: the seven deadly sins (murder, felony murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery) sentenced after July 31, 1994 ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE.  There are other crimes not eligible for parole as well not listed here.

-Life Sentences: January 1, 1995 and June 30, 2006 sentences are eligible for parole after 14 years; and sentences after June 30, 2006 are eligible for parole after 30 years.  If parole denied, a next look is within 8 years.

-Repeat Offenders/Recidivists (O.C.G.A. §17-10-7): those sentenced to serious violent felonies with prior convictions for serious violent felonies MUST be sentenced to life without parole.  For fourth time offenders: sentence MUST be the maximum allowed for offense without parole.

Here are some exceptions to the exceptions which are rules that have been established by the Georgia Parole Board Authority (O.C.G.A. §42-9-45(c):

– Crime Severity Level 4 or Less: may be considered for parole before serving 1/3 of sentences.  Crime severity chart is at:

-Sentences 2 Years of Less: these cases are generally fast tracked by the parole board and generally qualify for special early release programs like RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program) and SIP (Strategic Intervention Programs).

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