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Detention Hearings

What is a Detention Hearing?
A first level hearing that determines whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the parolee has been charged with a new criminal offense that would constitute a violation of parole.

Why is this hearing held?
This hearing is required to be held pursuant to the United States Constitution and the Parole Board’s regulations, which provide that a hearing must be held before a parolee can be detained for a violation of parole.

When are these hearings held?
They are held within 30 days of the person’s detention on the Parole Board’s warrant. However, a detention hearing is not required to be held by the Parole Board if a district justice conducts a criminal preliminary hearing or the parolee waives a criminal preliminary hearing and the new charges are held for court. Also, if the parolee has already been convicted of the new criminal offense, a hearing is not required to be held.

Who makes the decision in this type of hearing?
A Hearing Examiner conducts this hearing. A Hearing Examiner is a Parole Board decision maker empowered to sit on parole revocation panels, conduct parole hearings in lieu of panels and conduct parole interviews on behalf of the Parole Board. The final decision requires a second vote from a Parole Board member.

What is the burden of proof?
Probable cause

Does the person have legal rights at this hearing?
At each type of hearing, individuals are given their rights verbally and in writing. Individuals have the right to:
• Disclosure of evidence in support of the violations charged against them.
• Speak, have voluntary witnesses appear on their behalf and present affidavits and other evidence.
• Cross-examine adverse witnesses.
• Be represented by counsel. If a person cannot afford counsel, they may request counsel from the public defender of the county in which they are incarcerated. There is no penalty for requesting counsel.
• Request a continuance of the hearing for a good cause.

What happens after the hearing is held?
One of the following decisions will be reached:
(1) probable cause established – continue on parole
(2) probable cause established – detain pending disposition of criminal charges or
(3) probable cause not established – continue on parole.
*Charges can be re-filed if dismissed at this level.

Continuing on parole after first level hearings means the decision maker either did not find sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof or the circumstances of the new offense did not warrant detention pending disposition of the charges.

How long does it take to reach a decision and how is it given to the inmate?
This varies based upon the hearing and decision made. You should have a decision within 8 weeks. The Parole Board will send notice of its determination to you directly and to the attorney who represented you at the hearing if you had one. You will receive your copy by an electronic transmission to the facility.

Can the decision be appealed?
The decision after a Detention Hearing CANNOT be appealed. The Parole Board regulation authorizing requests for administrative relief only applies to parole revocation decisions and recalculations based on those actions.