- Do not waive your preliminary hearing. No matter what your parole officer tells you.
- You are entitled to a preliminary hearing within 15 days of your arrest where the DOCCS must prove to a hearing officer that they have a legal basis for locking you up.
- The preliminary hearing is not for the hearing officer to decide whether you have violated parole, but only to determine whether the DOCCS has sufficient reasoning and basis to suspect that you violated.
- You have a legal right to be represented by an attorney at your preliminary hearing if you request one and the hearing officer believes due process requires the assistance of an attorney. In NYC, lawyers from the Legal Aid Society are appointed to represent clients at the preliminary hearing stage.
- Your parole officer or the warrant squad will probably give you reasons to waive your preliminary hearing. Do NOT listen to them! Once you waive that hearing, you tell the Division that they do have a legal basis for the arrest.
- Don’t let DOCCS off the hook for your violation, that’s what waiving does, hurts you, helps DOCCS prosecute you.
If you are violated, do not give up hope. Here are the important things to know about the parole revocation procedures.
Do Not Waive Your Preliminary Hearing
You Have a Right to Legal Counsel
You hare a right to legal counsel at the following points in the parole revocation process:
- At your preliminary hearing, you have a legal right to an attorney if you request one and the hearing officer think due process requires an attorney.
- At your final hearing, you have an absolute right to an attorney.
- If you are arrested in New York City, the indigent legal counsel provider for parole hearings is the Parole Revocation Defense Unit of the Legal Aid Society (PRDU). If you are arrested for violating parole you do not need to call to request an attorney. A PRDU attorney will automatically be appointed to your case and will meet you at the Rikers Island Judicial Center before your hearing.
Let Your Attorney Know Where to Find Your Records
- Contact the family member or friend who has copies of your records or knows where to find your records.
- Let them know that you’ve been violated and that your lawyer will contact him/her within the next week or two.
- When you meet with your PRDU attorney, give him/her the name and contact number of your family member or friend who has your records.
What to Do If Charges are Upheld After the Preliminary Hearing
If the charges are upheld after the preliminary hearing, help your PRDU attorney gather evidence to use in your defense in the final hearing.
Evidence to prove that the charges are false
This evidence could include documents or witness that can prove your location at the time of the alleged violation.
- Cell phone records (if they prove the charges are false.)
- Employment/ program sign in sheets (if they prove that you could not have been at the time and place of the alleged violation.)
- Witnesses who can say that you were somewhere else when the alleged violation occurred.
- Electronic records and photographs posted on social media sites, such as Facebook, text messages, Instagram, etc.
- Mail documents, i.e. bills, receipts, credit card records.
This evidence is used to show the judge that even if they decide that you did violate parole, you are still a good person, are working very hard to maintain good parole status, and because of that the judge should not revoke parole, or should limit the sentence.
- Records showing consistent reporting.
- Letters from your program instructor or employer describing your progress.
- Letters from church or community members/ family / friends.
What to Expect at Final Parole Hearings
The final parole hearing is a series of hearings, during which an administrative law judge will determine two things:
- Whether you violated your parole as the DOCCS has accused you of doing;
- If the judge finds that you did violate parole, whether you should be restored back to parole, placed in an in-patient or out-patient treatment program or residence, or return to prison for a period of time.
There are many factors that the judge will take into consideration in determining which outcome is most appropriate. They include, but are not limited to:
- Your record on parole, i.e. have you violated before, and if so, how many times,
- The seriousness of the parole violation,
- Whether you are serving your parole for a violent crime,
- Ties to your community and evidence showing that you are a productive and contributing member of your family and community;
- Health concerns.
Most often, if your parole record is clean and you do not have many violations, the chances are better that you and your PRDU attorney will have success in the final hearing.
Legal Aid Society, PRDU attorneys will do everything that we can to try to prevent revocation.