James R. Smith - Criminal Justice Attorney

James R. Smith – Criminal Justice Attorney

Hello and thank you for visiting my web page. Included is a great deal of information which I believe will assist you and answer some of your questions regarding parole.

The parole process in Texas is confusing and intimidating to people who are not familiar with how the Parole Board operates or how the parole system works. As your attorney, that’s my job. I have been practicing law in the parole assistance arena for some 30-years. Let me work with you and present to the Board why parole should be granted. Please understand, time is of the essence. You cannot wait until the last minute to hire me. Time lines have been established by the Parole Board which are not flexible. I receive letters and phone calls daily from people I have to refuse to represent because they have waited too long. Unlike a trial date which is a date certain, the parole eligibility date is not. Inmate files go into review status about 6-months prior to the eligibility date. Parole assistance packages must be submitted within the Board’s required time line within that 6-month window.

The Parole Board generally spends less than 5-minutes reviewing an inmate’s file and the parole release rate has fallen to approximately 34%. Set-offs can be for as long as 5-years. It is up to you as to what type of legal assistance you receive. If you want an attorney who will diligently work on your file, prepare you and the inmate, gather information and prepare a parole assistance package that will be timely submitted to the Board and vigorously argued in the inmate’s behalf, then you should hire me. I have had a very successful career in representing inmates before the Parole Board as is reflected by some of the congratulation letters sent to my clients. The results are quite astounding; however, past successes do not guarantee future results. I look forward to working with you and helping achieve the common goal of release to parole.

Parole in the State of Texas:

There was a substantial change in how parole was applied beginning September 1, 1996. Prior to September 1, 1996, an inmate who had committed a crime that was not specifically listed as not being eligible for Mandatory Supervision would have to be released to mandatory supervision when the inmate’s actual time served plus good-time credit accumulated equaled the sentence imposed on the inmate. Any crime committed after September 1, 1996 no longer had Mandatory Release available, instead, when actual time served plus good-time credits accumulated equals the sentence, the inmate would be eligible for a Discretionary Mandatory Review. At the Discretionary Mandatory Review, a three-member parole board panel will determine if an inmate should be released to Discretionary Mandatory Supervision. It was not mandatory for the Parole Board to release an inmate as it was prior to September 1, 1996. I have acquired the statistics for parole and mandatory release rates for the parole board in the state of Texas for September 2010 through Feburary 2012.

An inmate convicted of a crime after September 1, 1996 can, and in most situations will have to serve a substantial portion of the sentence, if not the entire sentence, if the inmate does not convince the Parole Board he/she deserves to be released back to society on parole. In Texas there is no mathematical formula that will allow an inmate to be released short of serving the entire sentence. There is no two-for-one credit or any other mathematical formula that assures the inmate will be released. The Parole Board determines if an inmate should be released to parole on a case by case basis. The inmate in Texas goes into review 6 months prior to the parole appearance date and can be voted by the Parole Board any time during this 6 month window. Prior to an inmate’s file being sent to the Parole Board, information is sent to the inmate’s file by the sentencing court, the District Attorney’s Office that prosecuted the inmate, the arresting agency, as well as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The Parole Board does not have the funds or the manpower to investigate each inmate’s application for parole beyond the information sent by the various agencies I have listed above. Instead it is incumbent upon the inmate to discover any beneficial evidence, submit that evidence, and create a compelling argument as to why the Parole Board should release the inmate to parole. If this is not done, the Parole Board will deny the inmate parole and if parole is denied the Parole Board will then determine when they will review the inmate’s file again. The Parole Board may refuse to review (set-off) the inmate’s file for not less than one-year from the date of the last review to no more than five-years. There is no appeal from a Parole Board decision refusing parole and setting off the inmate’s next review to some future date not exceeding five-years.

The following information is based upon the laws which are currently in effect as of April 2010. Parole and mandatory supervision eligibility is determined by the laws in effect at the time the offense is committed, not the date of sentencing. Many of the inquiries I receive are in regards to an inmate’s eligibility date and there is quite a bit of confusion about it. The following chart includes all time served in custody (both county jail and prison) and reflects an inmate’s first parole eligibility date. Please keep in mind, the parole board is presently placing inmates files in parole review some six-months in advance of these calculated time frames, and they are voting cases as early as three-months prior to the inmates parole eligibility date. In other words, you need to hire me well in advance of the computed parole eligibility date.

On February 15, 2012, the parole board met and set up procedural hurdles for submitting information to the board which requires certain time frames to be met. If these time frames are not met, documentation submitted will not be accepted and taken into consideration during the review process. Also, changes have been made in the parole guidelines regarding the Risk Item Factors Scale and these new changes will greatly impact inmates in review.


                             PAROLE DISCRETIONARY MANDATORY
Yrs. 3g Offenses All Other Offenses 3g/508.149 Offenses All Other Offenses
1 N/A 1 mos 13 days N/A 5 mos 21 days
2 N/A 2 mos 25 days N/A 11 mos 8 days
3 2 yrs 4 mos 8 days N/A 1 yr 5 mos 2 days
4 2 yrs 5 mos 21 days N/A 1 yr 10 mos 22 days
5 2 yrs 6 mos 7 mos 3 days N/A 2 yrs 4 mos 12 days
6 3 yrs 8 mos 15 days N/A 2 yrs 10 mos 3 days
7 3 yrs 6 mos 10 mos 0 days N/A 3 yrs 3 mos 20 days
8 4 yrs 11 mos 8 days N/A 3 yrs 9 mos 16 days
9 4 yrs 6 mos 1 yr 0 mos 24 days N/A 7 yrs 3 mos 4 days
10 5 yrs 1 yr 2 mos 8 days N/A 4 yrs 8 mos 24 days
11 7 yrs 6 mos 1 yr 9 mos 9 days N/A 7 yrs 1 mos 6 days
15 7 yrs 6 mos 1 yr 9 mos 9 days N/A 7 yrs 1 mos 6 days
20 10 yrs 2 yrs 4 mos 12 days N/A 9 yrs 5 mos 18 days
25 12 yrs 6 mos 2 yrs 11 mos 15 days N/A 11 yrs 10 mos
30 15 yrs 3 yrs 6 mos 18 days N/A 14 yrs 2 mos 12 days
35 17 yrs 6 mos 4 yrs 1 mos 21 days N/A 16 yr 6 mos 24 days
40 20 yrs 4 yrs 9 mos N/A 18 yr 11 mos 6 days
45 22 yrs 6 mos 5 yrs 4 mos 3 days N/A 21 yrs 3 mos 18 days
50 25 yrs 5 yrs 11 mos 8 days N/A 23 yrs 8 mos
55 27 yrs 6 mos 6 yrs 6 mos 11 days N/A 26 yrs 12 days
60 30 yrs 7 yrs 1 mos 15 days N/A 28 yrs 4 mos 24 days
LIFE 30 yrs 7 yrs 1 mos 15 days N/A N/A