What Is Supervised Release?

By Claire Gillespie - Updated April 20, 2018
hand in jail

Offenders who serve lengthy terms in federal jail often move to supervised release after their jail sentence ends. Supervised release, which was created by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 as an alternative to parole and probation for federal offenders, is basically a period of supervision back in the community. Rather than a privilege granted after incarceration, supervised release is imposed at the time of initial sentencing.

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Supervised release is a period of supervision for prisoners recently released from federal jail.

How Long Can You Go to Jail for Violating Supervised Release?

Mandatory supervised release terms for all offenders include not committing another offense while on supervision, refraining from unlawful use of controlled substances, submitting to drug testing and submitting to the collection of a DNA sample. Further terms vary by offense. For example, sex offenders must comply with the terms of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

If you violate the terms of supervised release, you may be sent back to jail, potentially until the end of the supervised release term. The maximum supervised release term also varies by offense. For class A felonies punishable by life and class B felonies punishable by 25 years or more, the maximum supervised release term is five years. For class C felonies punishable by 10 to 25 years and class D felonies punishable by five to 10 years, the maximum supervised release term is three years. For class E felonies punishable by one to five years and class A misdemeanors punishable by six months to one year, the maximum supervised release term is one year.

Can You Leave the State if You Are on Supervised Release?

The court has discretion to impose other conditions of supervised release besides the mandatory conditions. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant and the need to protect the public from further crimes by the defendant, the defendant may be required to get the court's permission to leave the state.

In some cases, residence in a halfway house, home detention, curfews and intermittent confinement may be conditions of supervised release, although these are usually imposed following a violation of supervised release.

An offender on supervised release may also be ordered to report to a probation officer at set times, which could affect the ability to leave the state.

What Happens if You Violate Supervised Release for the First Time?

If you violate the terms of your supervised release, your probation officer reports the violation to the court unless it is an isolated incident and considered by the officer to be so minor that not reporting it does not pose any risk to any individual or the public. An example of this may be a minor traffic infraction or an isolated failure to file a monthly report.

If you violate the terms of your supervised release, the court may modify the conditions, extend the period of supervision or revoke supervised release and impose a term of imprisonment.

About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

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