Often when you think about sentencing you think about jail time, prison, and even fines. But there’s another aspect of sentencing that you may not realize is an option, post-release supervision, probation, and parole.

These three sentencing options are available to some people depending on the crime they committed and other factors. It may mean that they can skip time behind bars and go straight to probation, get released from prison early on parole, or have some supervised transition time between their prison sentence and integrating back into the community.

For many offenders, these options mean a second chance at life. Spending time behind bars can destroy families. It can cause you to lose your job, your home, and your possessions. It can cause rifts in your relationships and leave you will little to return to when you get out.

These options give individuals a chance to stay with their families, keep their job, and maintain their homes. And if they do go to prison, it could mean a shorter sentence. 

Post Incarceration Supervision

It is not uncommon for defendants in both federal and state court systems to serve a term of supervised release once they have completed their prison sentence. There are different types of post-incarceration supervision based on certain factors of the defendant’s case. They are each carried out in ways that are similar but do have distinct differences.

Probation – This is a criminal sentence that is imposed by the court. The defendant, upon meeting specific restrictions and conditions, is released into the community instead of being confined in prison. However, if they violate the terms of their probation, they may be remanded to prison. While they are on probation, they are supervised by a probation officer.

Parole – This is a conditional release of a person who is incarcerated before they have completed their sentence. They must meet certain conditions and restrictions and are supervised by a parole officer or other public official. If they violate any of the conditions of their parole, they may be returned to prison to finish out their term or if they are convicted of a new crime, that time may also be added to their sentence.

Post-Release Supervision – This is a term that is used in New York law regarding a probation or parole type situation for people who have been convicted and sentenced to prison. The defendant is released under specific terms and conditions and is supervised by a public official while they are on post-release supervision.

Federal Supervised Release or Parole?

At first glance, supervised release, probation, and parole may all look very similar, if not the same. However, there are some distinct differences.

The two main areas where you can see the differences are in the purpose of the release and the timeframe. 

Supervised release begins after the person has completed his or her sentence and has been released. It does not take the place of the person’s time in prison but rather is more like the next step once they have been released from prison. It is a term set in years that the person is required to serve under the supervision or oversight of a public officer. Supervised release is ordered by a federal judge who also sets the terms and conditions of the release.

Parole is different from supervised release in that it is a type of early release from prison. The inmate is required to serve some portion of their prison sentence and maintain a clean record that includes good behavior. If they qualify for parole consideration, their conduct will be reviewed by a parole board that will consider the inmate’s request while they are incarcerated. If the parole is granted, they will be on parole for the duration of their original prison sentence. It is the parole board that grants the parole as well as sets the terms and conditions of the parole.

For instance, if a person is sentenced to 20 years in prison, but gets parole at 15 years, that parole will take the place of their prison sentence so they will be on parole for the remaining five years of their sentence.

Federal Law Probation and Supervised Release

Probation and parole are outlined in 18 U.S. Code § 3522 – Probationers and parolees as well as 18 U.S. Code § 3563 – Conditions of probation. Supervised release is outlined in 18 U.S. Code § 3583 – Inclusion of a term of supervised release after imprisonment.

Federal probation is similar to supervised release with one significant difference. Where supervised release occurs at the end of a person’s prison sentence, a person can be put on probation instead of being sentenced to prison. 

This gives the defendant the opportunity to avoid prison and serve their sentence in their own community instead of behind bars while under supervision. When the judge orders probation, he or she will provide specific conditions and restrictions that the defendant must maintain. If they fail to maintain these conditions, the judge could revoke their probation and send them to prison to begin their sentence.

New York Post Release Community Supervision

The New York Depart of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYDCCS) has a special unit that is designed to help individuals who have been incarcerated return to their community after prison. It monitors the individuals and ensures compliance with conditions that were set at the time of their release. It is a steppingstone from incarceration to being totally free. It also helps newly released inmates have a smoother transition from incarceration to a productive life in the community.

There are several laws that govern New York’s post-incarceration release practices. These laws are extremely lengthy and detailed, very complex in nature. They cover post-release community supervision as well as parole.

New York Penal Law – Article 70 – Sentences of Imprisonment

70.40 – Release on Parole; Conditional Release; Presumptive Release

70.45 – Determinate Sentence; Post Release Supervision

What is Probation in New York?

New York probation is similar to federal probation. Typically, a person is sentenced to probation instead of going to jail or prison, meaning that they do not serve any time behind bars and are released into the community.

The standard felony probation term is five years, and the standard misdemeanor probation term is three years. If the person does not comply with the conditions and terms of their probation, they are considered to be in violation of probation. The probation officer will call the judge to notify them of the violation. When that happens, the judge may choose to send the individual to jail or prison so they can complete their sentence there.

If an individual wants to leave or move out of state, he or she must get approval from their probation officer. The officer will review the case and determine if the person on probation meets the requirements to qualify for a transfer of supervision to a different state. If they do, then they will do the necessary paperwork and move forward. If they do not, they will be denied and will not be allowed to leave. If they leave anyway, they will be considered in violation of their probation.

In New York judges also have the authority to allow early release from probation for defendants. Typically, this means that they complete at least half of their probation, pay off any fines, and complete all of their treatment, therapy, and classes that were ordered by the court.

New York Parole

Individuals who are serving indeterminate sentences may be considered eligible for parole once they complete the minimum term of their sentence. The New York State Board of Parole must deem the eligible to be considered for parole. However, if a person is denied parole, he or she must wait as long as two years before they are allowed to appear before the parole board again.

An individual on parole who wishes to travel to another state must request permission for the trip. Typically, permission is granted, but if the individual has been placed in a high-risk category or if their case has aggravating circumstances the request will likely be denied.

In some cases, a person may be allowed to get off of parole early. To even be considered the individual must have already served at least two years on parole. There are other terms that must be met, typically depending on the circumstances of the case.

If an individual is accused of violating parole, he or she can be immediately put in jail.

New York Less is More Act 2021

The Less is More Act which went into effect in March 2022, provided some significant reforms to parole in New York.

This bill allows people on parole to earn time credits that may make it easier for them to finish their parole early. In other words, if a person is in the community for 30 days without any violations, they get 30 days of time credit. Those 30 days will be removed from their parole sentence. 

People who are serving a life sentence are not eligible for this program. Other types of offenders, such as sex offenders may also be disqualified.

The bill also allows individuals who have a technical violation to appear in a community court upon receipt of notice instead of being automatically detained and incarcerated. If an individual is accused of a non-technical violation or if they did not appear for their violation notice, they will be arrested and within 24 hours will receive a criminal court recognizance hearing.

The goal of the bill is to streamline the parole process and improve due process.

If you have been charged with a crime or are facing incarceration and want to know your options – or if post-release supervision is an option for you, give us a call. The Litvak Law Firm has a proven track record of helping people just like you get the best possible outcome on their cases.

Call today at (718) 989-2908 for your free consultation and get started. Mr. Litvak has the knowledge and experience to provide you with the representation you need to ensure that your rights are protected. Don’t wait to see what happens or hope for the luck of the draw, take your future into your own hands and get the legal representation that you deserve.