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When Is Someone Eligible For Parole?

A person convicted of a crime defined as nonviolent under South Carolina law is eligible for parole after serving one-quarter of the sentence.

Someone convicted of a violent crime committed prior to Jan. 1, 1996, is eligible for parole after serving one-third of the sentence. If the crime was committed after Jan. 1, 1996, there is no parole, with some exceptions.

Just because someone is eligible for parole doesn't mean he or she will get it. Last year, for example, only about one-fifth of those who had parole hearings were actually paroled. About 15 percent of violent offenders received parole.

Which Crimes Are Ineligible For Parole?

For most violent crimes committed after Jan. 1, 1996, and that carry a sentence of 20 years or more, there is no parole eligibility. For more details on "no parole" crimes, visit the South Carolina Code of Laws website Section 24-13-100, et al.

Once Considered Eligible For A Parole Hearing, What Happens?

Staff members of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPPS) investigate the case of each parole-eligible inmate, beginning some six months before the inmate's scheduled parole hearing. The results of this investigation are presented in summary form to members of the parole board for their consideration during the hearing. A personal appearance before the board is granted to each eligible inmate who is imprisoned in a state correctional institution.

The board then considers factors such as sentence date, present offense and criminal record, personal and social history, institutional experience, etc., and applies a set of criteria in making its decision. There is no right to parole.

When Does The Parole Board Meet?

Parole hearings (full seven-member board or three-member panel) are held weekly. The board generally convenes in full on alternating weeks to consider parole for inmates convicted of offenses defined as violent by statute. At least five affirmative votes must be cast for such inmates to be paroled.

During the remaining weeks, the board meets in three-member panels to consider inmates convicted of offenses defined as nonviolent by statute. The panel must vote unanimously for any parole action to be taken. Cases receiving split votes are rescheduled before the full board, where at least four affirmative votes must be cast for nonviolent inmates to be paroled.

Probation/Parole Requirements

Probation, parole and community supervision are similar in enforcement. Offenders under SCDPPPS supervision report to their county offices on a schedule determined by their risk level. This level is initially based on the type of crime committed, criminal record and other factors. Offenders at the highest levels of risk of failure (of their supervision) are required to report weekly, while lower-risk offenders may report monthly or quarterly. After an initial supervision period based on the risk level, agents are permitted to set a level of contact with the offender that reflects the particular circumstances of the individual case.

Once the offender has reported, his or her agent asks if the offender is complying with the conditions of supervision. The offender usually must produce proof of work and discuss his or her current circumstances. Offenders also may have to go through an in-office drug test.

What Is The Longest You Can Serve On Probation Or Parole?

Five years is the longest someone can receive a probationary sentence. Parole can last for the rest of someone's life, if, for example, he or she is paroled for murder on a life sentence.

How Does Electronic Monitoring Work?

Electronic monitors are small, plastic encased devices that notify the central office of SCDPPPS when someone is at home. An offender on electronically monitored home detention (normally imposed by a judge or the parole board) must either be at home or at work, with exceptions approved in advance by the Agent. If the electronic monitoring device determines the offender is not at home when they are supposed to be they are subject to arrest and confinement in prison.

Effective Legal Representation

When you or a loved one may qualify for parole or probation ensure that a strong case is presented by working with an experience criminal defense lawyer. Get a free initial consultation to discuss your case by sending me an email or calling 864-236-4631.