California inmates who are denied parole at their first suitability hearing can request to move up the date of their next parole suitability hearing by completing a Petition to Advance Hearing Date, BPH form 1045(A).
The purpose of the petition to advance process is to permit the inmate to call attention to changed circumstances that he/she wants the board to take into consideration.
As established by California Penal Code 3041.5(d)(1), California inmates who are serving indeterminate life sentences become eligible for parole consideration when they have served their time to within one year of their minimum eligible parole date (MEPD). Many factors enter into determining the MEPD, which is beyond the scope of this article.
A life sentence doesn’t always mean a lifetime
In California, the sentences for certain serious crimes can be open-ended. This means a convicted defendant is sentenced to a period of incarceration ranging from a specified minimum number of years, up to a maximum of lifetime imprisonment. For example, 15 years to life and 25 years to life sentences are common. These sentences are referred to as “indeterminate life sentences.”
Petition to advance – a second chance
Inmates who are denied parole at their first suitability hearing can request to move up the date of their next parole suitability hearing by completing a Petition to Advance Hearing Date, BPH form 1045(A). However, pursuant to the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 (also called “Marsy’s Law”) which amended 3014 PC, if a petition to advance has been submitted and the inmate was subsequently denied parole, he/she must wait a minimum of 3 years and up to 15 years — as determined by the parole board — before filing another petition to advance.
The purpose of the petition to advance process is to permit the inmate to call attention to changed circumstances that he/she wants the board to take into consideration. The Board of Parole Hearings is charged with determining whether an inmate can safely return to society.
Parole hearing considerations
The overriding concern during any parole hearing is public safety. The second consideration is the necessity to impose comparable punishment on similarly situated defendants for the same crime; however, this does not always occur due to a wide array of mitigating and/or aggravating factors.
At the heart of the matter is whether the parole board can justify its decision to grant or deny parole, and it determines suitability by taking into consideration the potential danger a particular inmate may pose on public safety.
As is the case at every step of the criminal justice process, inmates may retain the services of an attorney — either a state-appointed or private lawyer – to provide legal advice, guidance, and representation in preparation for, and during the parole suitability hearing.
The origin of Marsy’s Law
Formally known as the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, Marcy’s Law was named for Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas who was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend. A week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother saw her murderer in a grocery store. Until that moment, the Nicholas family didn’t know that Marsy’s killer had been released on bail.
Marsy’s Law was enacted to protect the interests of crime victims and their families who, in many respects, had fewer rights than did offenders. Following its passage, victims and their families must now be treated with “respect and dignity by the criminal justice system.” The courts are now required to consider the safety of victims and their family members when determining bail and other release conditions, including a requirement to notify victims and their families about parole hearings.