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How Does Parole Work in California?

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If you’ve been convicted of a serious crime in San Diego, you’ll be facing actual jail time. Depending on the offense, you could end up spending a few months in the county jail. Or, if your crime is a felony, you may be a resident of the State penitentiary. It all depends on whether or not your San Diego criminal defense lawyer was able to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

If you’re only sentenced to a few months in the county jail, you won’t have to worry about becoming eligible for parole. But for serious offenders, parole can mean the difference between spending the rest of their lives in prison or enjoying freedom. San Diego criminal lawyers understand how the parole system works in California. They know which crimes qualify for parole and which do not. They also understand how the good time and work credit programs work. They’ll explain exactly what your best and worst-case scenarios are. This is why it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced defense lawyer in California before you go to trial.

Is Parole Mandatory in California?

For the most part, parole is mandatory in California. Unless someone poses a serious risk to the public, there is no reason why someone should be denied parole. Of course, this only applies to certain inmates.

If someone is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, then they aren’t entitled to mandatory parole. However, in order to be sentenced to LWOP, you have to commit a very serious felony and, usually, have a criminal history.

For other convicts, however, at some point, they should be released on parole. Even if you’re sentenced to a certain number of years “to life”, you may become eligible for parole.

In a way, parole is automatic. For example, when your determinate sentence is completed, you are presumed to be ready to re-enter society. Someone sentenced to 15 years to life would automatically be eligible for parole in 15 years. At that point, the Board of Parole Hearing will determine whether it’s safe for you to leave the prison system.

Your Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego Will Explain How Good Time and Work Credit Programs Work

While you’re in prison, there are other ways you can shorten your sentence. You can choose to behave and follow the rules, or you can make your life even more difficult on the inside. For every day of good behavior, you’ll earn time off your sentence. In addition, you can take part in work credit programs that will also reduce the time you need to spend in prison.

Years ago, even with good time and work credits, you had to serve at least 2/3 of your sentence. However, right now, due to prison overcrowding, you only need to serve half of your original determinate sentence. So, if you’re sentenced to 10 years to life, once you’ve served 5 years, you may be eligible for release.

There are certain categories of offenders who don’t qualify for these programs. Or, even if they take part in the programs, earn time off at a lower rate. For example, if you’re convicted of murder, you can’t take advantage of the work credit program. And people convicted of violent crimes must serve at least 85% of their original sentence.

Prison is Meant to Punish and Rehabilitate

There is a lot of debate whether the point of prison is to punish convicts or rehabilitate them. Today, the view the prison system takes is that it’s a combination. Three of the components of the modern-day prison system in California are:

  • To reduce the rates of recidivism by offering prisoners increased good time credits for taking part in beneficial programs.
  • Increase the supervision of high-risk parolees to make sure they don’t pose a threat to public safety
  • Include drug and alcohol programs both in prison and for parolees

The goal is to prepare those prisoners who deserve to re-enter society properly.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego Now

If you’re facing a criminal sentence or have a family member in prison, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Diego now. You can sit down and find out exactly how the parole system works in California. You can also find out what your options are when it comes to reducing your sentence.

Call San Diego Criminal today and schedule your initial consultation. These things are too important to try to handle yourself.

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