Judicial Release is early release from prison that can be granted only by the sentencing Judge. Judicial release is considered an act of leniency and must be earned based on the conduct of a prisoner while incarcerated. Judicial release is not automatic and has to be initiated by a motion for judicial release filed by a defendant or an attorney on a defendant’s behalf.
Once a motion for judicial release is filed, a prosecutor is given a chance to reply. Once a reply is filed a judge can deny the motion without a hearing or schedule the motion for a hearing (known as a Phase One Hearing). The defendant is not present at a Phase One hearing, but family and friends are permitted and the Judge may allow one or two to say something on the defendant’s behalf. Following a Phase One Hearing, a judge can deny the motion or schedule it for a Phase Two Hearing. At a Phase Two Hearing, the defendant will be brought back from prison to attend the hearing. Following a Phase Two Hearing, a judge can deny the motion or grant the judicial release.
A Judge does not have unlimited power to let a prisoner out of prison early so it is important to know what is allowed by law and whether a Defendant has met all eligibility requirements for Judicial Release. Knowing when a defendant is eligible to file for Judicial Release can only be determined by reading the sentencing journal entry written by a judge.
The eligibility to file for judicial release is as follows.
Sentence of 1 year and 11 months (or less) = Eligible to file immediately
Sentence of 4 years and 11 months (or less) = Must serve at least 6 months prison to be eligible to file
Sentence of 5 years (or more) = Must serve at least 4 years in prison to be eligible to file
It is important to note that time spent in jail prior to sentencing does not count towards eligibility. Additionally, all mandatory prison time must be served before the above eligibility begins to apply.
Attorney Walter J. Benson has handled hundreds of Judicial release cases during his almost three decades in practice. If someone you care about is incarcerated and you are seeking to obtain a judicial release, contact Attorney Walter J. Benson and let him put his experience to work for you.