If you have been charged with a crime and could face significant prison time if you are convicted, you probably have many questions about Georgia parole laws. For instance, you may be wondering when and if you would be eligible for parole, or release from prison.
The Savannah criminal defense attorneys at The Nye Law Group have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about parole laws in Georgia. Reviewing these answers can help give you an idea of how parole laws would affect you if you are convicted of the crime you are charged with.
After reading the list of frequently asked questions, contact our attorneys for a free legal consultation to find out if we can help you during this difficult time.
WHAT IS PAROLE?
Some offenders are granted early release from their prison sentence, also known as parole. This allows an offender to serve the remainder of his or her prison sentence in the community under supervision. However, if the offender violates the conditions of his or her parole, he or she could be sent back to prison.
Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles (SBPP) grants parole at its own discretion for offenders who have served an appropriate amount of their sentence.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAROLE AND PROBATION?
Parole is granted by the SBPP after the offender has served a portion of his or her prison sentence.
Probation is granted by a court as part of an offender’s sentence or an alternative to a prison sentence.
DO INMATES NEED TO APPLY FOR PAROLE?
Inmates or their families do not need to apply for parole or petition the SBPP to be considered for parole. If you are eligible for parole and are serving a felony sentence under the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections, the SBPP will automatically consider you for parole once you are eligible.
This is true regardless of any ongoing appeals or other legal action you are involved in.
WHEN DO I BECOME ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE?
In most cases, inmates are eligible for parole after serving one-third of their prison sentence, unless they have committed certain offenses that do not allow parole. The Time Served Rules listed in the Inmate Handbook details when an inmate may become eligible for parole.
However, being eligible for parole simply means you have the right to be considered for it once you are eligible. It does not mean you will automatically be granted parole.
WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE?
Under state law, certain offenders are required to serve their entire sentence and are not eligible for parole. This includes:
- Inmates serving a non-life sentence for one or more serious violent felonies committed on January 1, 1995 or later, including kidnapping, murder, rape, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and armed robbery
- Inmates sentenced to their fourth felony, as a recidivist
- Inmates who are sentenced to life without parole
- Inmates serving a death sentence
CAN AN INMATE SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE RECEIVE PAROLE?
Certain inmates serving life sentences may be eligible for parole consideration, including:
- Inmates who committed their offense before July 1, 2006 and have served 14 years
- Inmates who committed their offense after July 1, 2006 and have served 30 years
- Inmates who committed an offense before 1995 and have served seven years of their sentence
- Inmates serving a life sentence for the sale of drugs who have served seven years of their sentence
CAN AN INMATE BE CONSIDERED FOR PAROLE MULTIPLE TIMES?
If an inmate is denied parole and he or she is not serving a life sentence, he or she will automatically receive consideration for parole every five years, at minimum.
Those serving life sentences who have been denied parole will be reconsidered at intervals of no longer than eight years.
HOW DOES GEORGIA’S PAROLE CONSIDERATION PROCESS WORK?
When an inmate who is not serving a life sentence becomes eligible for parole, a parole investigator will conduct an investigation of the inmate, including:
- Studying arrest records and court records
- Interviewing arresting officers, court officials, victims and witnesses to create a legal investigation report about the inmate’s current offense and prior offenses that occurred in the same county
- Interviewing the inmate to complete a personal history statement, covering his or her account of the crime, where he or she has lived and worked, where his or her family members are, and plans for what to do if he or she is released from prison
Once the investigation is complete, the case is assigned to a hearing examiner. This individual recommends if and when an inmate should be paroled based on the Parole Decision Guidelines.
These guidelines are designed to help hearing examiners make consistent decisions about when to grant parole to inmates based on the severity of the crime and the inmate’s risk of committing more crimes once he or she is out of prison.
Once the hearing examiner makes his or her recommendation, the inmate’s case file is given to one of the five members of the parole board.
This person makes an independent decision about whether the hearing examiner’s recommendation is appropriate or should be overridden based on other factors. In some cases, the board member agrees that the inmate should be paroled, but at a later date than the hearing examiner recommended.
The process is repeated with the other four board members until there is a majority decision about whether to grant parole. If the board decides to grant parole, it will set a tentative parole month (TPM). This is the period of the prison sentence the inmate must serve before his or her release.
When the TPM is set, the case will be reviewed a final time to determine if parole will be granted. However, the board can change a decision for any reason, at any time, prior to the inmate’s release.
CONTACT THE NYE LAW GROUP TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Have you been charged with a crime for which you could face significant prison time if convicted?
You need skilled legal representation right away to defend your rights and help ensure you receive a fair trial, no matter what you are accused of doing.
Our attorneys are prepared for cases involving numerous criminal offenses, from weapons charges and traffic offenses to drug charges and federal crimes.
Contact our firm today to find out if we can help you.