Youth Offender Parole Hearings in Oakland
Inmates serving long prison sentences often have little hope of gaining parole. However, California law offers many people whose crimes took place when they were very young some leeway in the form of special parole hearings.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) must offer some inmates an early hearing to determine their suitability for parole. If you or a loved one has an upcoming youth offender parole hearing in Oakland, an experienced defense attorney could help secure the offender’s early release from imprisonment.
What are Youth Offender Parole Hearings?
There is an ever-growing body of research that indicates brain development continues into a person’s mid-20s. In particular, the parts of the brain that govern impulse control, decision-making, and executive functioning are slow to mature. In 2012, the Supreme Court recognized that many young people might have committed serious crimes in part because these areas of their brains were not yet fully developed.
Based on this research, the Court ruled that sentencing someone to life without a possibility of parole for crimes other than homicide committed if he or she is younger than 26 is impermissible. In response, California created the youth offender parole hearings program, to provide young offenders an opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for parole.
Parole Hearing Eligibility Standards for Youth Offenders
Not everyone who receives a long sentence for a crime they committed while young is entitled to a youth offender hearing. California Penal Code §3051 excludes certain inmates from youthful offender status. Inmates who were sentenced to death, or whose crimes were second or third strikes under California’s “three-strikes” criminal sentencing scheme, are not entitled to youth offender parole hearings.
Inmates must serve a significant portion of their sentence before CDCR schedules a hearing. The hearing will be scheduled in the:
- 15th year of imprisonment for offenders who were under 26 when they committed the crime, and received a determinate sentence
- 20th year of incarceration for inmates who were under 26 at the time of their offense and were sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of less than 25 years to life
- 25th year of the sentence if the inmate was less than 18 at the time of the offense and was sentenced to life without parole, or was less than 26 and sentenced to at least 25 years to life in prison
In some cases, it could be possible for a diligent criminal attorney in Oakland to challenge the denial of a youth offender parole hearing. The laws establishing these hearings are fairly recent, and the rules continue to evolve. However, most inmates who are serving sentences resulting from crimes committed in their youth will be eligible without a challenge. Inmates do not need to request the hearing because the CDCR will schedule it automatically.
Requesting a Franklin Hearing in Oakland
An individual in Oakland who is eligible for a youth offender parole hearing should request a Franklin hearing before his or her parole hearing. A Franklin hearing is a supplemental sentencing hearing that allows the defendant to present evidence of incomplete brain development in youth and any other mitigating factors that might be relevant.
For example, the defendant’s attorney could present other evidence to shed light on why the offender allegedly committed the crime, and how he or she has grown since that time. A lawyer might offer testimony regarding a difficult upbringing, any mental or emotional health issues the defendant suffered in his or her youth, a record of good behavior while incarcerated, and other proof of the individual’s readiness to rejoin society.
The evidence presented in this hearing is critical because it will be part of the record the panel will review at the youth offender parole hearing. Without the Franklin hearing, the board will have an incomplete record that does not contain mitigating evidence relating to the offender’s youth at the time of the offense.
Prepare for Youth Offender Hearing with an Experienced Oakland Attorney
After serving many years of incarceration, the youth offender parole hearing offers inmates a chance at freedom. You could improve your odds of success by working with a knowledgeable criminal attorney.
Do not try to prepare for your youth offender parole hearing in Oakland without professional assistance. Schedule a meeting with a capable attorney today.