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Mandatory Supervised Release (MSR) (Formerly known as “Parole”)

If a person is sentenced to serve jail time in a penitentiary, based on a felony conviction, upon release the offender must serve a period of mandatory supervised release, formerly known as parole. This period of time varies from offense to offense, and carries with it certain terms and conditions. The offender will be monitored by a parole officer to make certain that the offender is in compliance with the conditions of his mandatory supervised release.

Every felony prison sentence has a term of mandatory supervised release. During the term of the mandatory supervised release the offender must comply with certain conditions set forth to him by his parole officer. These conditions are usually communicated to the offender and he is required to sign a document stating that he knows what the conditions are. Most commonly the conditions include that the offender not commit any criminal acts, report to a parole officer on a regular basis, not possess firearms, allow the parole officer to inspect and search the offender and his residence during the duration of the supervised release, refrain from using drugs, not leave the state of Illinois, and any other condition that the parole officer determines is necessary for the protection of the public.

Failure to comply with the mandatory supervised release conditions may result in the filing of a Parole Violation or Parole Hold. If the parole officer believes the conditions of the mandatory supervised release are not being complied with they will file a Petition to Revoke Parole, or mandatory supervised release, with the parole board. Once filed the notice of what violations have occurred will be made known to the offender and the offender will be taken into custody. The offender has a right to request a hearing to determine whether the violations occurred. The offender has no right to bond during the duration of these proceedings and will be held in either the state penitentiary or county jail until the issues are resolved. The standard to prove that a violation occurred is proof by credible evidence, not proof beyond reasonable doubt. Simply put, the parole officer only needs to offer credible evidence that the violations occurred. A parole board, not a judge or jury, will preside over this hearing. During that hearing the parolee has the right to be represented by counsel, however, this representation is limited and the all types of evidence are admissible, including hearsay. If the parole board determines that the terms of the mandatory supervised release have been violated they can recommit the offender to any sentence for an amount of time that was left for the offender to serve.

In most cases, a petition to revoke parole is based on a new criminal charge. The parolee can request a hearing at any time, either prior to the new criminal case coming to a hearing or after. The problem for most parolees is that a parole hold keeps them in custody pending the outcome of the new criminal charge. In most cases it is best to defer from having a hearing until there is an outcome on the new criminal charges. Unfortunately, the parolee with remain in custody until the new charges are disposed of, but if the parolee wins his new case then the parole violation usually gets dismissed and the parolee is released at the next possible parole board hearing. Due to the nature of the logistical complications in balancing the new criminal charges and the parole board, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for all proceedings.