What is mandatory parole in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Mandatory parole is the period of required supervision that everyone who gets released from a Colorado prison has to serve. It is a way for the state to release prisoners while keeping tabs on them and holding them to high standards. At the end of the mandatory parole period, the person will hopefully be fully adjusted to the outside world and following a law-abiding life.

Depending on the type of Colorado felony the inmate was convicted of, mandatory parole can last either one to five years:

Colorado felony

Mandatory parole period

Class 2

5 years

Class 3

5 years

Class 4

3 years

Class 5

2 years

Class 6

1 year

Level 1 drug

3 years

Level 2 drug

2 years

Level 3 drug

1 year

Level 4 drug

1 year

There is no way for inmates to get out of the requirement to serve mandatory parole, even if the inmate had a perfect behavioral record. Also note that there is currently a movement among some lawmakers to reduce the period of mandatory parole from five to three years in some cases.

Parole conditions

After people get released on mandatory parole, they have to abide by several conditions. These are tailored to each person, but they may include:

  • taking unannounced drug tests and alcohol tests
  • letting police conduct warrantless searches and seizures of their property
  • living in a halfway house
  • not moving without permission by the Colorado State Parole Board
  • being home at a certain time (curfew)
  • being employed
  • checking in with the parole officer regularly
  • avoiding going to certain addresses or locations
  • avoiding contact with certain people or businesses
  • not committing other crimes

If law enforcement suspects that a person violated the terms of release, they will arrest the person pending a Colorado parole revocation hearing.

Parole revocation hearings

A parole revocation hearing looks similar to a trial, except the issue is whether the parolee violated the terms of his/her parole. Also, revocation hearings have looser evidentiary standards than criminal trials: Nearly all evidence is admissible.

Additionally, the prosecution does not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the parolee broke the rules. Instead, the prosecution's burden of proof is only by a preponderance of the evidence, which is legalese for "more likely than not."

During the hearing, the parolee has the right to testify. Meanwhile, the parolee (or his/her lawyer) may:

  • call witnesses or produce evidence in the parolee's favor;
  • can show mitigating circumstances that justify or explain the parolee's behavior; and/or
  • argue why parole should not be revoked or modified

If the Board after the hearing determines that the person indeed violated parole, the Board will either:

  • revoke the parole and send the person back to prison;
  • continue parole as it was with a warning to be more careful; or
  • stiffen the conditions of parole, such as an additional requirement to enter a rehab program

Parolees have 30 days after the hearing to appeal the Board's decision to revoke parole. During this time, the parolee remains incarcerated.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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