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I Have Been Sentenced To Prison - Now What?


After a felony conviction the court can sentence the offender to a prison term or place the offender on community control. Community control is anything that is not prison. Community control includes, but is not limited to: jail, halfway houses, house arrest, GPS monitoring, intensive probation and non-reporting probation.

If a prison sentence is imposed a person can seek a judicial release. This is done by filing a Motion for Judicial Release in the same court that imposed the sentence. A person becomes eligible to file a motion for a judicial release if they receive a non-mandatory prison sentence. Further, if a person is convicted of a fourth or fifth degree felony and is sentenced to less than a two year non-mandatory prison term, they may file for a judicial release after serving more than 30 days in the state correctional facility, but not more than 90 days in the facility. If the person receives a non-mandatory prison sentence on a first, second or third degree felony that is less than five years they may apply for a judicial release after serving 180 days in a state correctional facility. If they receive a prison sentence of five years they must wait until 4 years to file the motion for judicial release. If the person receives a non-mandatory prison sentence greater than five years and up to ten years, the earliest they can apply for release is after serving five years. If the person receives a prison sentence greater than 10 years, they can apply once fifty percent of the prison sentence is served or 5 years after the mandatory prison term, if any, expires.

Once the motion is filed, the court can 1) do nothing and let the motion expire in 60 days; 2) overrule it without a hearing; or 3) grant a hearing in open court. If the judge does nothing or overrules it without a hearing in open court, the person may re-file the motion again. If the judge grants the person a hearing on the motion, it is the only hearing that will occur. If the judge denies the motion for a judicial release after a hearing in open court, there is no opportunity for a judicial release and the person must complete the remainder of their sentence. If the judge approves the motion for a judicial release after a hearing in open court, the person will be released and placed on community control. The remaining prison sentence will be suspended and can be re-imposed in the event that the person violates their community control provisions.

If the judge grants a hearing, the procedure is similar to the procedure at the sentencing hearing. The court will ask for a statement and/or evidence from the defense lawyer, from the defendant, the prosecutor and any victim is allowed to speak and present evidence.