Parole is a highly conditional release from some type of incarceration. This usually means either state or federal parole. If you’re serving a sentence in a state prison, you will be subject to state parole. Federal prison inmates will be obligated to the terms and conditions of federal parole. Generally speaking, federal parole is far less tolerant than state parole. One common condition of both types of parole is random drug testing. You cannot refuse to submit to urinalysis on demand. If you do, the refusal will have the same effect as a positive or dirty test. This article will answer the question: What happens if you fail a drug test when you’re on parole?
What is Parole?
Parole is highly structured. Generally, you will have a particular parole officer assigned to supervise you and determine what your exact conditions of parole will be. In turn, these conditions are often related to the crime for which you were incarcerated. There are different levels of parole, ranging from minimal to very strict. If you were convicted of a violent or sex offense, you can expect to be at a much higher level of supervision than someone who was convicted of something less serious. Typically, only felonies carry prison time. Misdemeanors are usually handled with either fines, community service or short sentences served in the county jail.
Common Conditions of Parole
While you are on parole, certain civil rights are withheld and will not be restored until after successful completion of your parole. For example, you cannot vote. You do not have protection against search and seizure. You cannot refuse to allow a peace officer to search you or your residence, with or without a reason. A police officer who happens to know you’re on parole can search you on the street on sight. You may be prohibited from associating with certain persons. You may not be allowed to be in place where alcohol is served or sold. You certainly can’t have any weapons, potential or otherwise. Sometimes, this may even include pepper spray, a penknife or a nail file.
Random drug testing is a routine part of parole supervision. Your parole officer can demand a test at any time. They don’t have to tell you why or give you any notice. They can show up at your door in the middle of the night and demand that you test right then or face a violation. They won’t generally do that without a very good reason, but it’s possible. They can call you and compel you to present yourself at the parole office for testing or interrogation. Refusal to follow a parole officer’s direct order is grounds for immediate arrest and return to custody. Of course, this order must be in compliance with the parole officer’s job, and they cannot order you to do anything illegal.
Attitude is Everything
If you’re on parole, your parole officer rules your life. It’s best not to fight it. Just do what you’re told. It’s easier, and if there is any kind of early release from parole available to you, you will be much more likely to get it. Your goal should be to get discharged from the parole system as soon as possible. Some good ways to do this are to always show respect, follow all the rules, show up on time, maintain steady employment and never, ever provide a dirty urine test. Parole officers figure that if you’re working and testing clean, you’re probably not engaged in criminal activity. They will be far more likely to leave you alone, which is what you want.
If you do fail a drug test while on parole, you will definitely be getting some unwanted attention from your parole officer. He or she has several options:
- Give you a warning
- Give you a first violation but allow you to remain free
- Require drug treatment
- Return you to custody
If you’re dirty and you know it, don’t allow your officer to just test you and further insult his or her intelligence. Admit it before you test. They’re going to find out anyhow. If you’re honest, they might even let you go and come back another day when you’re clean. Most officers are crazy busy and many are lazy. They really don’t want to do the extensive paperwork necessary to return you to jail and prepare for the parole hearing. If there is a reasonable option, your parole officer is highly likely to give you a break, especially if you have been cooperative in the past.
If you’re on parole and concerned about drug use, call us at 844-639-8371. We can help you find a good rehab program and even work it out with your parole officer. We look forward to speaking with you.