What Happens If You Violate Parole for the First Time?

Gavel, handcuffs, and a book describing parole violations

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Violating the terms of your parole – even once – is a crime that comes with serious consequences, which can include returning to prison. Taking the terms of your parole seriously is key to your ability to remain in the community, which is almost universally the goal.

If you’re facing a parole violation charge, you need the skilled legal counsel of an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney in your corner.


If you are on parole, it means that you have already served part of your sentence behind bars and are serving the rest in the community under the supervision of a parole officer and with a specific set of conditions. Parole is only granted when all the following factors apply to your situation:

  • You substantially followed the rules of the institution that housed you.

  • Your release does not undermine the seriousness of the offense you were convicted of and does not promote disrespect for the law.

  • Your release does not jeopardize the welfare of the public.

The intention of parole is three-pronged and includes each of the following goals:

  • While you adjust to life on the outside, a probation officer assists you with matters related to residence, employment, and finances.

  • Parole protects the community by helping former prisoners adapt to their new living situations, which, in turn, reduces the risk of reoffending.

  • Parole limits the unnecessary imprisonment of those who meet the criteria for parole and are unlikely to reoffend.

The ultimate goal of parole is supervision that focuses on the successful reintegration of parolees as productive members of society.

Parole vs. Probation

Parole and probation are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct forms of community supervision, and understanding the differences between the two can help. If you are facing either parole or probation, work closely with a Killeen criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.


Probation is community supervision that’s court ordered and that bypasses incarceration. Probation is ordered in lieu of a jail sentence. Texas judges have considerable discretion when it comes to the matter of probation, but probation only applies to those facing misdemeanor or lower-level felony charges.

While every criminal charge is a serious matter, some carry far harsher penalties, and these aren’t eligible for probation.


Parole is granted to someone already serving a prison sentence – allowing him or her to complete the remainder of their time under community supervision. Only the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles can grant parole, and those who are considered model prisoners are most likely to be awarded parole.

When granted this early release from prison, parolees must carefully follow all the conditions and requirements attached to their parole.

Determining Eligibility for Parole

Those convicted of crimes in Texas receive sentences that have parole eligibility built in. Before this predetermined date, offenders are ineligible for parole. In other words, parole eligibility begins with sentencing – unless a minimum sentence is specified or an indeterminate sentence is imposed.

Those seeking parole are generally eligible when time served plus credit for good conduct equals 25 percent of the total sentence or 15 years, whichever is shorter. This requirement means that someone who is sentenced to life with the possibility of parole must serve at least 15 years before eligibility is reached.


Parole is a discretionary matter, which means that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. For certain charges, convicts must serve longer periods before eligibility for parole is established, and some charges, including the following offenses, are exempt from parole entirely:

  • Any conviction that leads to a sentence without the possibility of parole

  • Any conviction for continuous sexual abuse of a minor

  • Any conviction that leads to a death sentence

3G Offenses

Some charges, classified as 3G offenses, affect parole eligibility. All of the following crimes are classified as 3G offenses:

For these charges, parole eligibility carries all of the following requirements:

  • The inmate must serve a minimum of two years behind bars.

  • The inmate can’t shave off time for good conduct.

  • The inmate must serve at least half of their original sentence.

Extended Requirements

There are certain crimes for which the State of Texas employs extended eligibility requirements, including a 35-year minimum prison sentence. All of the following crimes lead to extended parole eligibility requirements:

  • Burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit a felony

  • Aggravated sexual assault

  • Indecency with a child by contact

  • Aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit sexual abuse

In addition, anyone who is convicted of capital murder must serve a minimum of 40 years in prison before reaching parole eligibility.

How Parole Works

Once an inmate nears the point of parole eligibility, the matter of parole is determined in a parole review hearing. Notice of the hearing is sent to each of the following parties:

  • The inmate in question

  • The inmate’s attorney

  • The trial officials

  • The victim of the crime or the victim’s family members

Before the hearing, a parole officer interviews the inmate and prepares a summary of the case that will guide the parole board’s hearing. While the inmate doesn’t have the legal right to attend the parole hearing, a trusted attorney can be there to represent him or her. The attorney prepares and presents a parole packet that carefully defines why parole should be granted.

The parole board is made up of three members, and two votes are needed for a decision. Parole can either be granted or denied, based on the following factors considered by the parole board:

  • The inmate’s conduct while serving this sentence

  • The amount of time the inmate has already served

  • The inmate’s criminal record

  • How serious the offense being considered for parole is

  • Any letters sent in support of the inmate’s parole

  • The testimony of the inmate’s victim – or their family members

When parole is denied, the board can delay the parole decision until the next parole review hearing or can deny parole altogether and refuse any future review hearings.

Parole review hearings are important to helping you reintegrate into society. Give your case its best chance at success by trusting your case to a Killeen criminal defense attorney.

Special Release Conditions

When parole is granted, conditions are set, which tend to include the basic conditions that apply for probation but can also extend to the following special release conditions:

  • Registration as a sex offender

  • Mandatory participation in drug or alcohol treatment, psychological counseling, or educational programs

  • Intensive supervision

  • Drug or alcohol monitoring

  • Electronic monitoring

  • Payment of restitution to victims

Each of the required conditions is included in the inmate’s release plan.

Basic Conditions of Parole

The primary conditions of parole, which generally correlate with those of probation, include all the following requirements:

  • Reporting to the parole officer according to instruction

  • Remaining on the right side of all municipal, county, state, and federal laws

  • Obtaining the parole officer’s written permission prior to changing residence or leaving the state

  • Refraining from acting as an informer or special agent for any law enforcement agency without the Parole Division’s specific written approval

  • Refraining from owning, selling, controlling, or possessing any firearms, prohibited weapons, or illegal weapons

Parole Can Be Revoked – Even for a First Violation

After parole is granted, it can be revoked for any violation of any term in the release plan – even if it is a first and seemingly minor violation. If law enforcement discovers that a parolee may have violated a parole term included in their release plan, they can file a motion to adjudicate with the court, which can lead to a bench warrant that calls for the parolee’s arrest.

The Preliminary Hearing

Parolees retain their right to due process, which begins with a preliminary hearing in response to a criminal charge. At this hearing, an officer or a group of officers hears the evidence against the parolee and determines whether the case should proceed to a probation revocation hearing. The preliminary hearing must establish probable cause for proceeding to a revocation hearing. Probable cause is the same level of proof that the police need to pull you over on the road.

In some instances, parolees are held in jail until the probation revocation hearing. Under other circumstances, the preliminary hearing is skipped altogether – such as in response to a parole violation that isn’t otherwise a criminal offense, like leaving the state without permission. In these situations, the court must issue temporary revocation orders.

The Revocation Hearing

At the revocation hearing, the court needs a preponderance of credible evidence to find that the parolee violated one or more conditions of their parole. This requirement means it must be more likely than not that the parolee is in violation of the release plan. If the violation is technical rather than criminal, only an affirmative finding is required for the court to take action.

If you are found in violation of your parole, it can be revoked by the court, but there are other legal options that can be imposed:

  • You can be transferred to a substance abuse treatment center.

  • You can be allowed to stay on parole under the original conditions.

  • You can be allowed to stay on parole under modified conditions.

If the violation in question is a criminal offense, you’ll also need to address the legal ramifications of the charge.

How a parole violation is resolved is determined in accordance with the following factors:

  • The nature of the violation

  • The severity of the violation

  • The amount of time left on your parole term

  • The degree to which you’ve successfully conformed with the conditions of your parole outside the violation in question

A seasoned Killeen criminal defense attorney will help you present your strongest case and fight to keep your parole.

FAQ about Parole Violations

If you have questions about your own parole, the answers to those asked most frequently by others in your situation can help.

What Is a Parole Violation?

A parole violation refers to any failure to follow the conditions of your parole. For example, refusing to submit to required drug testing qualifies as a violation, and so does failing to show up for scheduled meetings with your parole officer.

What Are the Consequences of Violating Parole?

The consequences of even a first parole violation can be serious and can land you back in prison. If the violation in question involves breaking the law, you’ll face that criminal charge on top of your parole violation, which can lead to far harsher penalties. If you have been charged with a parole violation, it’s time to consult with a formidable Killeen criminal defense attorney.

What Is the 41-Day Rule?

If you are charged with violating your parole, the state generally has 41 days from your arrest to provide you with a hearing. However, there are exceptions. For example, if you are arrested outside of Texas, the 41 days don’t begin until you’ve been returned to Texas. Further, if you have another criminal case pending, the 41-day rule doesn’t apply.

Are Parole and Probation the Same?

Probation and parole are distinct legal matters. Probation is ordered in lieu of a sentence, and it applies only to lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors and lower-level felonies. When an individual violates probation, they can be required to serve their original sentence in its entirety.

Parole, on the other hand, allows inmates who have already served a significant portion of their sentence to finish their time under the supervision of a parole officer. While the basic conditions of probation and parole tend to be similar, additional special conditions are often imposed for parolees.

Seek the Skilled Legal Guidance of an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a focused criminal defense lawyer with a wealth of impressive experience helping clients like you successfully navigate the parole process and defending clients against parole violation charges.

Your future is far too important to leave to chance, and our savvy legal team is standing by to help. For more information about what we can do for you, please don’t put off contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222 and scheduling your FREE consultation today.

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