Parole in Queensland
Upon being found guilty or by pleading guilty to an offence, a Magistrate or Judge must sentence you.
There are various sentencing options available to a judicial officer when sentencing an offender, all of which range in seriousness and severity.
The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) allows a Magistrate or Judge to imprison an offender for offences under a range of different legislation, such as the Criminal Code, the Drugs Misuse Act, the Police Powers and Responsibility Act and the Bail Act. For many sentenced jail, parole is a second chance without having to serve part or even the whole term of imprisonment imposed.
The Simple Question – What is Parole?
Parole is a form of imprisonment, which is served in the community but with several strict conditions. The Probation and Parole office will require you to report to them, complete any programs or attend any rehabilitation services they require, or even participate in drug-testing. You will not be allowed to leave Queensland for the duration of the order, unless given approval by the Probation and Parole office.
There are strict conditions for people on Parole and it is important that you follow the rules. Failing to do so could result in actual jail time (or further jail if you have already served part) and even a criminal charge for breaching the order.
Parole comes in two forms, court-ordered parole and board-granted parole. Below is the basics on the differences between the two types, but if you know someone who is eligible for parole, we encourage you to give us a call to discuss their situation as navigating the parole system can be tricky.
If a court sentences you to 3 years or less in prison and doesn’t convict you of a sexual or serious violent offence, the Court must set your parole release date at the sentencing hearing.
An example of this can include offences such as drink driving, minor repeat drug offending, stealing and tainted property offending, where the maximum penalty of imprisonment, in most cases, is less than 3 years. These offences are often dealt with in the Magistrates Court and called ‘summary offences’.
There are instances where the Courts can order your imprisonment for less than 3 years on indictable matters, such as Assault Occasioning Bodily Harm, which has a maximum imprisonment period of 7 years. In those situations, the Court must still set your parole release date.
The parole release can be set as being released on parole immediately. The Magistrate or Judge could also set your release date after you serve a part of the term of imprisonment.
We encourage you to book in with one of our expert criminal lawyers today to discuss your case.
The Parole Board Queensland is the government body and authority who determine whether a person should be released into the community on parole, after serving time on a sentence of imprisonment.
The difference between court-ordered parole and board-granted parole is that there is an application process for Board-Granted Parole. To be released on parole, you must submit an application to the Parole Board Queensland.
The application process can be tricky and if you are unsuccessful in your application to the Board, you may have to wait up to 6 months to re-apply (or up to 12 months if the prisoner is serving a life-offence sentence).
Our expert criminal lawyers know what makes an application for parole likely to be successful. There are several key points to hit on your application for parole. We can assist you in drafting the application for parole and even appearing at the parole hearing on the prisoner’s behalf.
How long does the application process take for Parole?
As of September 2021, the Queensland Parole Board is seeing significant delays in hearing parole applications.
This has been a major challenge for the Queensland community who have family members in custody. The process for applying for parole, upon eligibility, can take several months (upwards of 6-8 months).
In a submission sent by the President of the Queensland Law Society to the Queensland Government on 16 April 2021, Ms Elizabeth Shearer stated that there were consequences for the delays in parole decisions.
Ms Shearer identified that the Queensland Government opens itself to risks of potential liability of a significant number of judicial reviews of parole applications in the Supreme Court. Further, that delays in the decision-making for parole application impacts on human rights.
Lastly, it was noted that there are significant impacts on the wellbeing of people held in custody and the community that surrounds them.
Queensland Law Society published an article on 27 September 2021 that prisoners are inundating the Supreme Court with applications for judicial review regarding their application for parole.
The author noted there have also been a number of changes to the Queensland Legislation to assist the Government in relieving the backlog of applications for parole. The new laws now allow the Parole Board Queensland up to 6 months (180 days) to hear and decide applications (as opposed to the previous legislation which only allowed 4 months (120 days).
If you know someone is looking to apply for parole, we strongly encourage you to seek legal advice. Contact our team today!
When Can I Submit My Application for Parole?
A person can submit a parole application six months before their parole eligibility date.
What Happens if I am Unsuccessful in My Application for Parole?
If the Parole Board Queensland considers not to grant a prisoner parole, they must provide the prisoner a letter explaining their reasons and concerns with granting that prisoner parole. The prisoner has within 14 days to make submissions as to why parole should be granted.
These submissions should be detailed and address the concerns as outlined in the letter received from Parole Board Queensland.
The prisoner needs to act quickly as there is only 14 days to do so, however you can apply for an extension of time.
Breach, Suspension and Cancellation of a Parole Order
Once released on parole, as stated above, you have a number of strict conditions to abide by.
There are several ways in which a parole order may be breached, suspended or cancelled.
The main reasons in which a parole order may be breached, suspended or cancelled are:
- has failed to follow a condition of their parole order
- presents a serious and immediate risk of harm to another person
- presents an unacceptable risk of committing an offence
- is preparing to leave the state without permission.
By breaching a condition on the parole order, you may be subject to further criminal charges.
We Can Help
If you have any questions in relation to parole, call one of our expert criminal lawyers to discuss.