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Parole Violations in PA

There are two basic types of parole violations- Technical and New Criminal Conduct

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Parole Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

This article explores the two basic types of parole violations and will discuss some minor details of each.

Technical Violations

Probation or parole may be revoked for a legitimate technical violation, such as the willful failure to maintain a job, use of drugs or alcohol, or the failure to report to the probation or parole officer.  The Commonwealth need only prove a violation of probation by a preponderance of the evidence.  In order to prove a technical violation of a condition of parole, the Board is required to demonstrate that the parolee was at least somewhat at fault for the technical violation.  If a condition imposed is vague, ambiguous, or capable of various interpretations, the courts will construe the condition against the Board when determining whether the condition has been violated. 

For example:

A prohibition against being at a designated mall during "late" hours was found unworkably vague and violative of due process;

A condition which required a parolee to "notify" parole supervision staff within 72 hours of an arrest was not clear because it did not indicate what sort of notification was required;

A condition, "zero tolerance for any gang activity," was not defined by the Board, in statute or in case law. As a result, the court construed the condition against the Board and held that merely conversing with another gang member in a prison, without more, did not constitute "gang activity";

A parolee or probationer may have parole or probation revoked for failure to pay court imposed fines, costs, and restitution, as long as the Board or court makes a reasonable allowance for the parolee's or probationer's ability to pay;

Violations for new criminal conduct

Probation may be revoked because of new criminal conduct occurring before the probation begins or during the probationary or parole period. A probationer need not be convicted of the new crime for it to form a basis for revocation.  By statute, it is a violation of state parole for any parolee to be convicted before a court of record of a crime occurring during the parole period.  This could include convictions for summary offenses in the court of common pleas.  A parolee found in violation of parole for a violation of an order entered under the Protection from Abuse Act would be deemed a "convicted" violator.

If you have questions about a parole violation or a pending charge as it may relate to a parole violation or detainer, contact the experienced parole team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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