How to Petition to Modify Your Supervised Release Conditions

With the overwhelming focus on prison, few defendants think about supervised release(and almost no lawyers discuss it with them) until they are about to end their term of imprisonment. Once the conditions they are expected to follow are laid in their hands, and the realization of what they are about to face hits (especially for sex offenders), only then do offender truly think about what they signed up for. If this is you, and you’re despairing about how difficult release may be, all is not lost.

Under the plain language of 18 USC 3583(e)(2), release may literally be modified at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. The commentary to Federal Rule 32.1 (regarding probation) explicitly authorized judges, on their own motion, to rethink conditions, even if no new information has come to light. Despite this, its not as easy as it looks. Though there are no limitations, Courts have still created them. So, there are some things to know:

(1) Be close to the door. That you can petition for release at any time doesn’t mean you should. For obvious reasons, judges tend to take a dim view of people who still have thirty years to serve asking for modification that far out. Too much can change in that time. About 18 months to two years is when you should prepare to file.

(2) The burden is on you. Though judges are supposed to justify why they gave you conditions, once sentencing concludes, that is a technical failure. By not objecting, you have waived that argument, and, for that matter, all other “formalistic” ones. Now, you must show the condition is substantively unreasonable-either as applied to you or in general. (We will discuss this more in future articles.)

(3) Be prepared for hurdles. Despite the unambiguous language of the statute, do not be surprised if the court pretends it has some impediment to granting your motion, or even hearing it. No court ever finds a problem with modifying release against you, of course, but may drag their feet in rehearing poor decisions. Though judges are supposed to know the law, brief your ability to file very thoroughly to nip this in thee butt beforehand. Note that the statute is not a one-way ratchet. If it can be used against you, it can be modified for you.

Also, many judges treat such a request like a 2255 motion. You may have to explain why you did not timely raise the issue (though there is no “timeliness” to the statute) and show prejudice. Research your circuit and judge to see what other fun showings may be required. Since none of this is actually mandated, but is part of judicial common law, it varies widely between districts, and sometimes even between judges within the same district. Addressing this before the court raises it can help you tremendously.

(4) DON’T BLAME YOUR JUDGE!!! I cannot emphasis this enough. If you can bring forward new case law that the judge could not have considered at the sentencing, do so! Failing that, it never hurts to kick your lawyer under the bus for failing to present the arguments. But, remember, you are going in front of someone with a massive ego. Pointing out that any part of this is their fault cannot go well, even though it is undeniably true. Finding a way to erase their error can only benefit you.

(5) Get a lawyer if possible. Put bluntly, a mediocre argument coming from an actual, even if subpar, lawyer, often goes over better than an amazing one from a brilliant inmate. No matter what the system preaches, there is an inherent, ingrained bias against us. Only do it yourself if you have no other option. If you do all the work, some lawyers will take it and put their name on it for a small fee. This alone doubles your chances. If they will wheel and deal for you, all the better.

(6) Start with an appeal in mind. There are many judges who will tell you no, no matter what. Build your argument for appeal from the wordage. Know the range of the judge’s discretion and firmly foreclose any condition as a valid exercise of his power. The more you prepare in the district, the more likely you are to prevail in the higher courts.

Now that you know not to despair, and, more importantly, not to file modification motions pell-mell, we will examine substance more next time.

Also, we previously mentioned about the updated cert list from the Supreme Court. Due to some technical difficulties, we are unable to provide this right now. Hopefully, next Tuesday, we will have the problem resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience.

BackSoSoon is a blog dedicated to helping sex offenders successfully reintegrate back into society. Our Corrlinks address is backsosoonblog@gmail.com and our website i

With the overwhelming focus on prison, few defendants think about supervised release(and almost no lawyers discuss it with them) until they are about to end their term of imprisonment. Once the conditions they are expected to follow are laid in their hands, and the realization of what they are about to face hits (especially for sex offenders), only then do offender truly think about what they signed up for. If this is you, and you’re despairing about how difficult release may be, all is not lost.

Under the plain language of 18 USC 3583(e)(2), release may literally be modified at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. The commentary to Federal Rule 32.1 (regarding probation) explicitly authorized judges, on their own motion, to rethink conditions, even if no new information has come to light. Despite this, its not as easy as it looks. Though there are no limitations, Courts have still created them. So, there are some things to know:

(1) Be close to the door. That you can petition for release at any time doesn’t mean you should. For obvious reasons, judges tend to take a dim view of people who still have thirty years to serve asking for modification that far out. Too much can change in that time. About 18 months to two years is when you should prepare to file.

(2) The burden is on you. Though judges are supposed to justify why they gave you conditions, once sentencing concludes, that is a technical failure. By not objecting, you have waived that argument, and, for that matter, all other “formalistic” ones. Now, you must show the condition is substantively unreasonable-either as applied to you or in general. (We will discuss this more in future articles.)

(3) Be prepared for hurdles. Despite the unambiguous language of the statute, do not be surprised if the court pretends it has some impediment to granting your motion, or even hearing it. No court ever finds a problem with modifying release against you, of course, but may drag their feet in rehearing poor decisions. Though judges are supposed to know the law, brief your ability to file very thoroughly to nip this in thee butt beforehand. Note that the statute is not a one-way ratchet. If it can be used against you, it can be modified for you.

Also, many judges treat such a request like a 2255 motion. You may have to explain why you did not timely raise the issue (though there is no “timeliness” to the statute) and show prejudice. Research your circuit and judge to see what other fun showings may be required. Since none of this is actually mandated, but is part of judicial common law, it varies widely between districts, and sometimes even between judges within the same district. Addressing this before the court raises it can help you tremendously.

(4) DON’T BLAME YOUR JUDGE!!! I cannot emphasis this enough. If you can bring forward new case law that the judge could not have considered at the sentencing, do so! Failing that, it never hurts to kick your lawyer under the bus for failing to present the arguments. But, remember, you are going in front of someone with a massive ego. Pointing out that any part of this is their fault cannot go well, even though it is undeniably true. Finding a way to erase their error can only benefit you.

(5) Get a lawyer if possible. Put bluntly, a mediocre argument coming from an actual, even if subpar, lawyer, often goes over better than an amazing one from a brilliant inmate. No matter what the system preaches, there is an inherent, ingrained bias against us. Only do it yourself if you have no other option. If you do all the work, some lawyers will take it and put their name on it for a small fee. This alone doubles your chances. If they will wheel and deal for you, all the better.

(6) Start with an appeal in mind. There are many judges who will tell you no, no matter what. Build your argument for appeal from the wordage. Know the range of the judge’s discretion and firmly foreclose any condition as a valid exercise of his power. The more you prepare in the district, the more likely you are to prevail in the higher courts.

Now that you know not to despair, and, more importantly, not to file modification motions pell-mell, we will examine substance more next time.

Also, we previously mentioned about the updated cert list from the Supreme Court. Due to some technical difficulties, we are unable to provide this right now. Hopefully, next Tuesday, we will have the problem resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience.

BackSoSoon is a blog dedicated to helping sex offenders successfully reintegrate back into society. Our Corrlinks address is backsosoonblog@gmail.com and our website is www.backsosoonblog.com.

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