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  • Can I Get an Early Release Because of Good Behavior?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Can I Get an Early Release Because of Good BehaviorA person’s most valuable commodity is time. We know life is short. Certainly, no one wants to spend any time behind bars. Unfortunately, bad things happen that could result in losing your freedom. However, if you’re incarcerated, you might be able to work toward achieving early release in New Mexico if you are eligible. 

    Can I get early release because of good behavior? When you get convicted of criminal charges that could put you behind bars, this question will likely spring to mind. When looking at a possible jail sentence, it’s reasonable to want to know if you have early release eligibility. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can provide you with the answers you need to make the right choices for your future. Contact us today.

    Can I Reduce My Sentence?

    There are three ways you can earn a sentence reduction in New Mexico. Jail credit, early release, and parole allow you to serve less time than the judge originally imposed. 

    First, know that you will get credit for the time you spent in jail while awaiting trial on your felony charges. For example, suppose you receive a two-year prison sentence but have already spent 180 days in confinement awaiting trial. In that case, you will have approximately 18 months left to serve on your two-year prison term. You get this time credited toward your sentence as long as you were in jail on that charge while the case was being resolved. A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer in New Mexico could help you figure out the jail credit you deserve. 

    However, release from prison because of good behavior is entirely different and is the focus of our discussion.

    Who Is Eligible for Good Behavior Early Release?

    New Mexico law allows many prisoners to earn meritorious deductions from their prison sentences. The law sets the amount of good time you can earn on the types of criminal charges you have. 

    At the outset, anyone serving a life sentence or a capital sentence cannot earn good time credits. Additionally, prisoners serving a minimum-mandatory sentence cannot earn early release until the minimum sentence elapses. Otherwise, anyone serving a state prison sentence has the chance to earn early release.

    The crimes you are convicted of determine how much good time you could receive if you complete all your monthly requirements. Non-violent offenders can receive more days per month than someone who committed a serious violent offense. Serious violent offenses refer to crimes such as:

    • Second-degree murder,
    • Voluntary manslaughter,
    • Aggravated battery,
    • Kidnapping,
    • Unlawful sexual penetration,
    • Criminal sexual contact with a minor,
    • Robbery,
    • Aggravated arson,
    • Shooting at or from a motor vehicle,
    • Aggravated assault on a peace officer, or
    • Any other offense involving violence or the threat of violence that the court determines to be a serious violent crime.

    Clearly, not every offense qualifies as a serious violent offense. Therefore, even if you are sentenced to prison, a skilled lawyer might be able to convince a judge to define your crime as non-violent so you can earn more good time and get out earlier.

    What Is Good Behavior in Prison?

    Each institution gives its inmates a copy of the rules for earning good behavior credit. Good behavior in prison does not necessarily mean being a model prisoner and never getting any disciplinary reports. Yes, obeying the prison rules is a substantial component of earning good time, and getting sent to solitary confinement is a way to lose your good behavior credit. But you have to be an active participant to qualify for meritorious deductions. 

    Participation Is Essential

    Prisoners who wish to earn early release must behave and actively participate in programs recommended by the prisoner classification supervisor. The classification supervisor gives each inmate a series of programs designed to meet their specific needs. If successful, a person serving a sentence for a violent crime can earn a maximum of four days of good time per month. A person serving a sentence for a non-violent offense can receive up to a maximum of 30 days of good time per month. 

    Additionally, a person serving a prison sentence after a parole violation based on a new felony offense or absconding from parole can earn up to four days per month. Parole violators can earn up to eight days per month if they revived a conviction for a serious violent offense or failed a drug test. Finally, parole violators who return to prison can earn 30 days per month if their original conviction was for a non-violent offense. 

    There are several reasons inmates might not be eligible for meritorious deductions. Disobeying an order to perform labor, spending time in disciplinary segregation during the first 60 days of a sentence for a serious violent offense, and not actively participating in a recommended program are all reasons that could disqualify you from meritorious deductions. 

    Lump Sum Deductions

    New Mexico law encourages inmates to better themselves while incarcerated, and the Department of Corrections heavily favors education as one way to accomplish this goal. You can earn three months of good time credit for earning your GED, four months for earning your associate’s degree, and five months for your bachelor’s degree or graduate qualification. 

    Some other acts that could earn you good time credits include:

    • Performing a heroic act that saves a life, 
    • Performing a heroic act that saves property, 
    • Engaging in extraordinary conduct involving great effort or risk that benefits the state or public, or 
    • Going above and beyond to improve yourself. 

    The warden recommends the number of days of good time earned by performing such activities. At their discretion, they can award you up to one year of good time credit for these acts.

    All parolees (except sex offenders) can earn up to 30 days of meritorious deductions from their parole term. However, failing to comply with the parole rules will cause you to lose your parole credit. 

    New Mexico Criminal Law Offices: Fighting for You Every Step of the Way

    We are here to assist you throughout the entire criminal process. You need a proven advocate to guide you through the complex and frustrating maze of the New Mexico criminal justice system. We will fight to clear your name. However, our advocacy does not stop if you get convicted of a crime. We continue to pursue every avenue of relief to help you wrap up your sentence as soon as possible so you can return home. Contact us today to learn more.