Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What are SB 261 Notices (CDC-128): ELIGIBILITY for Youth Offender Parole Hearing

Attorney Letarte's Law Office (619-233-3688) is continuously getting questions (letters and phone calls) from Lifers (ISL) and  from long-term Determinate (DSL) sentenced inmates as well as their Family Members and Friends regarding the SB 261  inmate NOTICE (CDC-128).  CDCR Counselors are not always providing an explanation to the inmate regarding the meaning of the Notices. Hopefully this BLOG will answer some questions.

What the Heck does the SB 261 Notice (CDC-128) memo mean?

If an inmate receives a NOTICE indicating that s/he qualifies for a Youth Offender Parole Hearing (YOPH), it is NOT an indication that they will be going to a Parole Hearing - right away. There are several factors to look for in a SB261 Qualification, the age is the primary determinate but NOT the only trigger to schedule a parole hearing. REMEMBER: Under the YOPH laws minimum terms must be served, for both ISL and DSL. (see Attorney Letarte's inmate Blog on SB260)  

Two key terms are the Minimum Eligible Parole Date (MEPD) and the Youth Parole Eligibility Date (YPED):
YPED =  Minimum time served, based on SB261 law.
MEPD =  Minimum time served (Lifers), based on Laws @ time of Life offense.

YPED will trump the MEPD and MAY bring the (YOPH) inmate to a parole hearing before the MEPD.

SB 519 (companion to SB261) require** that :
  a) ISL inmates are to be provide a hearing before  December 31, 2017
  b) DSL inmates are to be provided a hearing before December 31, 2021
** If the inmate become newly eligible for a parole hearing for the first time on January 1, 2016, as a result of   SB261 (i.e. offense committed under 23 y.o.)  In plain English it means --> those inmate who have met the Minimum served requirements, will have a hearing on or before the date stated above.

Parole Hearings vs. Consultation Hearings (aka Doc Hearings)

Some inmates are getting confused between a Parole Hearing and a Consultation Hearing. A Consultation Hearing is required and must be completed usually within a certain time frame.Consultations are held during the sixth year prior to the inmate’s minimum eligible parole date (MEPD), youth parole eligibility date (YPED), or elderly parole eligibility date (EPED), whichever occurs first. (Pen.Code §3041(a).)
 Below is a short definition of the 2 processes:

 All Lifer (ISL) inmates are required to go through the Board Of  Parole Hearings (BPH) to determine if they are Suitable to be release in the Free community. Lifers have no guarantee of a release UNLESS they are granted Parole by the Commissioners at a hearing. This is an Administrative hearings, normally 2 to 3 Commissioners form the hearing Panel. The inmate is usually present (at the hearing) with their Defense Attorney and the DA may (or not) attend in-person, via telephone, or video conference. Victims or their next of kin may attend the hearing and usually oppose the release. The inmate's family are not usually allowed to attend UNLESS they were the victim of the commitment offense. After 2-4 hours of discussions with evidence presented during the hearing, the Commissioner will deliberate and provide a Decisions at the end of the Hearing whether to Grant or Deny Parole. If not granted Parole then, the Denial is based on Marsy's law, thus ranging from 3, 5, 7, 10, 15 years.

On the other hand, a Consultation Hearing  is attended by only one (1) Commissioner and the inmate, no attorneys are allowed. It is not a process to grant or deny parole but only a process to provide information to the inmate about the Parole Process. The Board (BPH) is required to provide the inmate information about the parole hearing process, legal factors relevant to his or her suitability or unsuitability for parole, and individualized recommendations for the inmate regarding his or her work assignments, rehabilitative programs, and institutional behavior. (Pen. Code §3041(a).)

BOTTOM LINE: If the inmate is going to a Consultation Hearing he may hire an attorney for a private attorney Consultation BEFORE attending the Consultation hearing but the Attorney is not allowed at the Commissioner Consultation with the inmate. The attorney is definitely required at the Parole Hearing, but it is still the option of the inmate to waive Attorney representation at the Parole Hearing. It is NOT recommended to go to a Parole Hearing without an experienced Parole Hearing Attorney. 

If you have question -->  Attorney Letarte (619-233-3688) has been doing Parole Hearing Representation for over 15 years and is well versed in all the new laws on same.