In South Carolina, a prison inmate may be granted parole if he or she meets certain criteria and his or her request is approved by the parole board following a hearing. Parole is an early release from prison that is supervised by a parole officer. Inmates are first eligible for parole consideration if they have served one-third of their sentences for those who were sentenced to 30 years or less, according to S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-610. In cases in which inmates were sentenced to terms that are 30 years or longer or to life imprisonment, they must have served a minimum of 10 years in prison before they will first be eligible for parole consideration. When an inmate is granted parole, he or she must follow the terms of release or risk having his or her parole revoked.
Consequences of Violating Parole in South Carolina
According to S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-680, a person who violates any of the terms and conditions of his or her parole may face a revocation of it. The parole officer has the option of either issuing a warrant or a citation to the parolee. If a warrant is issued, he or she will be arrested, and bond may only be set by a judge in the district. In most cases, a parolee who is accused of violating his or her parole will not be granted bond, but will have to remain in jail until his or her parole revocation hearing. If the parole is revoked following the hearing, the person may be sent back to prison to serve either a portion of the remaining sentence or the entire remaining sentence. If the parolee is returned to prison, he or she may be eligible for parole again after serving an additional amount of time.
Parole Revocation Hearings
A person’s parole cannot be revoked without a hearing. At the hearing, several people will be present, including the parole officer, the parolee and the hearing officer. If the parolee has an attorney, the lawyer will also be there. The parole officer will submit the parole certificate for the parolee into evidence in order to establish the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The parolee will then be asked if he or she wants to waive hearing his or her rights or to have them read to him or her. Then, the hearing officer will name each individual violation that is alleged, and the parolee will be able to admit or deny each one. Later on, the parolee will be given an opportunity to explain his or her side of the story. The parole officer will be allowed to submit evidence, which may include his or her report, other documentation or testimony. The parolee or his or her attorney may object to items offered into evidence as they are submitted. The attorney will also have the right to cross-examine the parole officer as well as any witness that may be called to testify against the parolee.
The burden of proof at a parole revocation hearing is much lower than the burden of proof that is required at a criminal trial. Parole violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the parole officer must establish that the violation is more likely than not to have occurred. By contrast, at a criminal trial, a person’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Being granted parole is not considered to be a right. Instead, it is considered to be a privilege. In many cases, the terms of parole are strict and may be onerous. It can be very easy to violate parole. When a person is accused of doing so, he or she can defend himself or herself at his or her hearing. Because of the much lower burden of proof requirement parole revocation hearings, people who are accused of violating the terms of their parole may benefit by getting the help of a criminal defense attorney to defend against the allegations. Contact our law office today to learn more.