It’s hard to get an accurate grasp of Street Time Credit rules for parolees in Texas. The rules require some math, a proper understanding of the client’s criminal history, and, most annoyingly, an accurate assessment of how the client’s prior convictions are currently categorized in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Let’s unpack the rules. As always, this ain’t free legal advice, just a general overview. Please consult your lawyer to get professional advice on how the rules apply to your situation.
What is Street Time Credit and why does it matter?
You only care about this topic if you’ve got a loved in prison or facing parole revocation, so you probably already know the term. But what exactly does it mean? It refers to the time a paroled inmate spends on the “street” (on release and in the free world) prior to being revoked and getting sent back to prison. Street Time Credit is when TDC counts the time you were in the free world as part of your sentence.
Hopefully you’ll never care about street time credit because your loved one gets paroled out and behaves himself. In that situation he just stays “on paper” during the remainder of his sentence and then is discharged. But life isn’t perfect and sometimes people screw up. When a parolee screws up and gets revoked, the question of whether the time he was out on the street counts towards his total sentence becomes a HUGE ISSUE. It could mean the difference between spending years in prison or just a few months.
So, for those facing revocation, street time credit is very important.
The Texas Government Code is the go-to statute for all things parole. For parole revocations occurring after September 1, 2001, Section 508.283(c) controls. It says that if a person gets revoked they will get street time credit if the “remaining portion of their sentence is less than the amount of time they have spent out on parole.”
In other words, if the time you spent on the street is MORE than the time you have left to serve in prison, you get street time credit — all the time you were out in the free world counts towards your sentence. But, if the time you spent on the street is LESS than the time you have left to serve in prison, none of your time in the free world counts.
Your street time is counted from the date the revocation warrant was issued.
Fred gets a 10 year sentence. He paroles out after 2 years. Then he’s on parole for 6 years. Then he gets a DWI and the revocation warrant issues on the date of his sixth year of being out on parole. Does he get street time credit? Just do the math. He’s got 6 years’ street time and only 2 years left on his sentence (10 yr total sentence – 2 years in TDC – 6 years on parole = 2 years left). So, yes, all 6 years he was on the street counts! Fred has 2 years to do upon revocation. And he’ll be parole eligible again during that 2 years.
Fred gets 10 year sentence. He paroles out after 2 years and then gets a revocation warrant at the end of year 2 and is revoked. Does he get street time credit for those 2 years? No! He’s still got 6 years left on his sentence and those 6 years are more than the 2 years he was out in the free world. Now he goes back to prison facing . . . gulp . . . 8 more years of prison (but remember he’ll be parole eligible again).
You get the idea — Texas rewards you for behaving yourself on parole. The longer you behave yourself, the higher the likelihood that you’ll get credit for your street time.
Except . . . it’s More Complicated
Yes, it’s more complicated than the simple rule set out above. Fred is a lucky guy because his conviction qualifies for the normal street time rules. Under section 508.149(a), certain inmates are excluded from getting any street time credit no matter how long the’ve been in the free world. Below I’ve listed the types of crimes that disqualify an inmate from getting street time if revoked. I’ll refer to these as “Section 149 offenses.”
It’s also important to understand that a person is prohibited from street time credit if he has a previous conviction for a Section 149 offense (including a previous deadly weapon finding). So if you go to prison on a felony DWI but have a previous Section 149 offense, you won’t be street-time eligible if revoked on your new felony DWI parole.
Most frustrating of all, the TDCJ Time Credit Department will sometimes update your previous conviction to a Section 149 offense when determining street time credit eligibility. For example, if you got convicted 15 years ago for engaging in organized criminal activity, TDCJ may attempt to count that as a prior conviction that makes a person ineligible for street time credit on a newer case, even though the engaging offense was not a Section 149 offense at the time you committed it.
The Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that a person’s eligibility for street time is governed by the law in effect at the time the offense for which a person is on parole was committed. So TDCJ classifications may at times erroneously apply new changes to the law to old convictions. See Ex parte Keller, 173 S.W.3d 492 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005).
As you can see, the street time credit issue can get complicated if you have older convictions. Sometimes it’s a good idea to seek legal remedies if TDCJ denies your street time credits.
Listed below are the Section 508.149(a) crimes that will exclude you from street time credit:
Any offense where there is a deadly weapon finding;
a first degree felony or a second degree felony murder;
a capital murder;
First or second-degree aggravated kidnapping;
Indecency with a child;
a first-degree or second-degree aggravated assault;
Aggravated sexual assault;
a first degree felony injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual;
a first degree arson;
a second degree felony robbery;
a first degree felony aggravated robbery;
a first degree burglary;
a felony enhanced under the school zone or use of a child statutes;
Sexual performance of a child offense;
Continual sexual abuse of a young child;
a first degree felony criminal solicitation;
Continuous trafficking of a person; or
Engaging in organized criminal activity or committing a crime as a gang member.