Parole authorises the conditional release of a prisoner after they have served part of their sentence in prison. In Queensland, parole is governed by the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 and the Corrective Services Act 2006. While a person is on parole, they are usually supervised and must comply with conditions in order to remain in the community until the end of their sentence. However, if they breach any of their conditions while on parole, they may face serious legal consequences in Qld.
In Queensland, there are two types of parole:
- Court-Ordered Parole
- Board-Ordered Parole
Court-Ordered Parole is for offenders sentenced to a period of imprisonment for 3 years or less. Under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, the offences must not be sexual offences or a serious violent offence. The court will generally issue a fixed parole release date at the time of sentencing. Conditions for parole are set out in section 200 of the Corrective Services Act 2006.
Board-Ordered Parole is for offenders sentenced to a period of imprisonment with a parole eligibility date. They must apply to the Parole Board for a release date on a parole order. A prisoner cannot be released on parole until they have reached this eligibility date, except if they are granted exceptional circumstances parole outlined in Section 176 of the Corrective Services Act 2006.
As an independent statutory body, the Parole Board are charged with making decisions regarding a prisoner’s conditional release into the community. Their tasks include making decisions regarding parole applications, amendments, suspensions and cancellations.
What is the Parole Eligibility Date?
A parole eligibility date is a date upon which an offender becomes eligible to apply for release to parole by the Parole Board. An offender is eligible to apply for parole after serving 50% of their sentence, or 80% of their sentence if convicted of a serious violent offence (or 15 years, whichever is less).
What Are the Conditions of Parole in Qld?
When a prisoner is released on parole, they must meet the following conditions:
- Do not commit an offence
- Receive visits from a corrective services officer and following the officer’s directions
- Tell Corrective Services if you change your job or address within 48 hours
- Do not leave Queensland without permission
- Attend all necessary courses, programs, meetings and counselling
- Undertake tests for drugs and alcohol
- Do not otherwise breach parole and comply with other conditions in the parole order.
If the parolee does breach parole and fails to comply with the conditions in Qld, you may face some penalties.
What Happens if You Breach Your Parole in Qld?
If you breach your parole order in Qld, or you are considered a serious risk of harm to others or yourself, the Parole Board may either suspend, amend or cancel your parole order, or you may be sent back to prison.
By amending your order after a breach of parole in Qld, the Parole Board may choose to add, remove or change your current parole conditions. The Parole Board may also suspend your order and send you back to prison for a maximum of 28 days if they reasonably believe that you:
- Have failed to comply with a parole order condition;
- Present an immediate risk or harm to yourself or another person;
- Present a risk of committing an offence;
- Are preparing to leave Queensland without permission.
The Parole Board will usually make three decisions during the breach of parole in Qld:
- Decision One: A Parole Board Queensland member can urgently suspend a parole order without telling you, followed by a warrant for your arrest.
- Decision Two: The entire Parole Board Queensland must reconsider the urgent parole suspension within two business days. They must decide whether to suspend the parole order or release you back into the community. If they choose to suspend the parole order, the Parole Board must write to you saying why your parole was suspended and ask you to explain the breach within 21 days.
- Decision Three: The Parole Board must consider what you write to them regarding your breach and make a new decision. They can then decide to release you, suspend your order, or cancel your order. They must tell you what decision they have made (there is no time frame).
Decisions one and two can happen very quickly, whereas decision three may take more time. If you are sentenced to another period of imprisonment, your parole order will be cancelled.
Did You Breach Your Parole Order in Qld?
If you breach your parole order in Qld or the Parole Board chooses to suspend your order, it is vital that you seek expert legal representation. Our team at Guest Lawyers specialise in all criminal law matters such as Parole Board decision reviews, pleas of guilty and not guilty, and advocacy for trials. For legal advice and representation, do not hesitate to get in touch with us, either via email or our phone line on (07) 3236 0266.