Seth Topek
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Criminal Defense Attorney: Defending the Rights of the Accused and the Incarcerated

    “Senate bill 45” is what certain cases that require special voting are commonly called.  Offenders who are incarcerated for a conviction under 21.11(a)(1), 21.11 (both of which are serious sexual offenses), or offenders who are must serve 35 years before becoming eligible for parole are voted on differently by the parole board than other offenders.  Below is an explanation of the differences:

  1. 1)    Majority of offenders: cases are voted at the regional parole office by a parole panel consisting of one parole board member and two parole board commissioners.  To be granted parole an offender must receive a majority in favor of parole, and the voting stops once two of the voters are in agreement.
  2. 2)    Senate Bill 45 offender:  only parole board members vote.  This means that the case will be sent around to each of the board offices, including Austin.  All seven members must vote before an offender can be released.  Additionally, at least two thirds of the members must vote in favor of release for the offender to be paroled.

    For practical purposes it is more difficult to receive a positive parole vote on a senate bill 45 case.  These are serious offenses and often the facts underlying the case are difficult.  Additionally, these cases take longer to go through the voting process.  The case must go from one office to another to the voting members and if it is a difficult decision it can take time before each member has cast their vote.  While these cases are difficult we do take on these cases when a strong case for parole can be made.   Often these are cases where a victim or family member of the victim has come forward requesting parole, where there are facts about the case that distinguish it from many others, or where we are able to use experts in regards to an offenders past and future success of parole.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of the offense, the amount of time served, or other factors we may conclude that it would not be prudent to go forward.  We are always forthcoming with our views.  If you have questions regarding Senate Bill 45 cases or about our services please call us at 713-651-1444 or fill out an online contact form.  Our office is in Houston and our parole practice takes us across the state of Texas.  We represent offenders with families in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, Fort Worth and other cities and towns across the state.