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Can a petition for early parole or to lift a detainer get someone out of jail?


Incarceration rates are at a record high and, unfortunately, many people have loved ones and family members in jail, either serving sentences or awaiting trial. While it may be impossible to have that person be home for the holidays in some circumstances, for others, filing a petition for early parole or to lift a detainer may help get that person out of jail and back home.

Early parole petitions can be filed for someone who has already had a trial and is serving a sentence. By fling a petition for early parole, the decision as to when a prisoner will be released is taken out of the hands of the prison officials and placed before a judge. When a person is sentenced to a period of incarceration in Pennsylvania, that person receives a minimum and maximum sentence.

For example, six to 23 months or two to five years. A person becomes eligible for release at their “minimum term”, or the first number in their sentence. However, prisoners are not automatically released at their minimum date. In some cases, people can be released before their minimum date. This is possible where a prisoner is entitled to “earned time,” “good time,” or “credit for time served.”

The final say on when a person is released is ultimately decided by a judge, but by filing a motion for early parole, a skilled attorney can place the question of when an inmate is released before that judge much earlier than it would be under the normal, slow, bureaucratic method. A motion for early parole can be filed at any time after a person is sentenced and is probably the best method for early release of an imprisoned person.

A motion to lift a detainer usually involves someone who is on probation or parole and has potentially violated the rules of thier supervision. This also includes people who get arrested for a new offense while they are on probation or parole. While they are waiting for a trial on the new matter, a “detainer” will often be issued and lodged against them. A detainer is an order that someone must be kept in jail. A detaine cannot be removed by paying bail and can only be removed, or lifted, by a judge or magistrate. In many circumstances, detainers will be issued when there is an allegation that a person has committed a violation of their probation or parole — even a minor or technical violation. However, many alleged violations are misunderstandings, or infractions which the person on probation has a valid excuse for. By filing a motion to lift a detainer, an attorney can argue before the judge that legitimate reason exists for the violation, or that there are other extraordinary circumstances that justify releasing a person from jail.

Michael Parkinson, Jim Lloyd, and Timothy Tarpey are criminal defense attorneys and former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorneys with more than 30 years experience who have filed countless motions and petitions requesting that detainers be lifted or seeking early parole. Many of these motions have resulted in having our clients released from jail in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware Counties. If you know someone who is serving a sentence or is in jail on a judge's detainer call us now so we can start working to get your loved one out of jail as soon as possible. Talk to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney. Call us at (215) 352-3432.