If you've been granted parole in California, the most important thing to understand is that parole is a conditional release from prison. Until you complete your original sentence, you risk going back to prison at any time if you violate the terms of your parole. If you suspect a parole warrant has been issued for you, the best thing to do is to contact the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation right away. You may also determine whether you or someone else has a warrant by using your local police department's online search option, if there is one.
Many police departments have a website where you can search for outstanding warrants by filling in a person's name and date of birth.
Terms of Parole
For as long as you remain on parole, you'll have to follow a number of rules and restrictions that don't apply to other people. For example, you are required to report virtually any change in your living situation to your parole agent starting as soon as you get out of prison. You have to let the parole agent know if you get a new job at least three days before you start the job. You have to inform the parole agent before you move, and ask the parole agent for permission before you travel. Most importantly, you have to meet with your parole agent whenever you're told to and follow your parole agent's instructions.
If you don't meet your parole agent when you're supposed to, the agent can have a warrant issued. If you're considered a potential threat to public safety, the California Parole Apprehension Team will be sent to find you. A warrant can also be issued if the Board of Parole Hearings determines that you have violated your parole terms.
In practice, not all parole violations are serious enough to get your parole revoked. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has developed a Parole Violation Decision Making Instrument to help parole agents determine whether parole should be revoked or not. If the agent recommends that your parole should be revoked, the Board of Parole Hearings can issue a warrant.
Checking for Warrants
Your relationship with your parole agent is key to staying out of prison. If you have missed a meeting, the first thing you should do is to call your parole office and ask your parole agent for instructions.
You can reach the office for California's Northern Region at 916-255-2758 and the Southern Region office at 909-468-2300. These offices should be able to give you the phone number for your local parole office in northern or southern California if you don't already have it.
If you think a warrant has already been issued, you can call the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at 916-445-6713.
Depending on where you live in California, you might be able to check for warrants online. For instance, the San Diego Sheriff's Department has an online warrant query function, as does Orange County. Some departments list all their active warrants online. Check your local sheriff's department website to see what's available there.
Some websites allow you to search for warrants on a number of public records databases for a fee. You can also contact a criminal defense attorney.