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Understanding the Parole System in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services was created in 1941. The goal of the department is to help protect the community while also helping offenders of criminal offenses move forward with their lives.

The mission of the department is:

  • “To prepare offenders under our supervision toward becoming productive members of the community
  • To provide assistance to the victims of crimes, the courts and the Parole Board
  • To protect public trust and safety.”

Parole applies to defendants who have been convicted of a crime and who have been sentenced to jail. This decision is made by the Board of Paroles and Pardons – not the trial judge – which grants the prisoner the right to be released from prison. The prisoner is bound to comply with any conditions the Board requires, for the length of whatever sentence remains. Parole is used as a reward for good behavior while the person convicted of a crime is in prison.

The general conditions of parole include:

  • Assignment of a parole officer. The convicted person must meet with the parole officer on a regular basis.
  • Avoiding further violations of the law. If you are arrested for any other crime, of any type, your parole may be revoked requiring you to spend the remainder of your sentence in prison. You will also have to face the consequences for the new offense.
  • Limitation of movement. Parolees may not be allowed to leave the state or the county/city. They may also be required to stay away from certain places.
  • Rehabilitative services. Parolees may be required to attend alcohol or drug-related classes to address any substantive abuse problems. They may be required to obtain other types of counseling too.

Parolees must also pay supervision fees which can vary depending on your ability to pay.

How parole and pardons differ from probation

Probation is generally part of the sentence a judge imposes on someone who has been convicted of a criminal offense. Depending on the severity of the offense, the prior criminal history of the defendant, and the circumstances of the crime, a judge can order prison time, probation, or a combination of both. Probation means that the person convicted of a crime does not spend time in a jail or prison during the probation period, but is under the supervision of the court and the probation system. This supervision can include a variety of conditions beginning with the need to meet with a probation officer.

Pardons are issued by the Pardon Board. Although under current South Carolina law pardons do not result in an expungement, there are numerous benefits to obtaining a pardon including regaining the right to possess a firearm and if a felony was involved, no longer being considered a convicted felon.

If you are charged with violating parole, you should have the right to a hearing. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Columbia and Charleston can help you explain what happened, can contest that there was a violation, and argue against additional punitive measures. Attorney Randolph Hough understands how prosecutions works because he was a former prosecutor. He’s obtained numerous acquittals, dismissals, and plea bargains during his lengthy criminal defense practice. To schedule a free consultation at The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. please call 803.771.4119 or complete our contact form. We represent defendants in Columbia, Charleston, and throughout the state.