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Dayvid Figler, criminal defense attorney
Nevada's most notorious prisoner is in line to be a free man -- but not any time soon. He's won parole on some of the charges, but not others. And those other charges will keep him in the penitentiary for four more years. So why do the parole now? We asked a Las Vegas defense attorney.
When does a prisoner apply for parole?
Figler: It actually is an automatic thing ... in ye olden days of Nevada law, a person used to get sentenced to a term, an actual amount of years, so you would get five years, or seven years or ten years, or 12 ... or something like that. Parole was a little bit of a mystery to a lot of folks. And there were a lot of people in the community who saw people being released early and they were confused. So the Nevada Legislature passed what was called The Truth in Sentencing laws and they made a scheme in Las Vegas where a person would be sentenced to a range of time. The range of time represents when someone becomes parole eligible. So in this case, the most serious charge against O.J. Simpson was first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon. The 1st degree kidnapping part of that came with the justices ruling – a five to 15 year term, so that meant he was eligible for parole in five years. So the parole board literally sets these hearings out five years in the future and five years has passed, give or take a couple of months. Then you go before the parole board and you make your plea. And they have their rules in the way that the proceeding goes, and the parole board decides whether or not to grant parole based on the hearing itself.
What’s the point on going for parole on some charges, when he still has time to go on other charges?
In this particular case O.J. Simpson was found guilty of 10 of the 12 counts. Now some of the counts were set by the judges’ order to run concurrent to each other, meaning that the literally, if you think about it, side by side, they’re all just expiring at the same time. And there were some counts that were deemed to run consecutively which means that after the one has been served, so as you go through the process and you add up all the time that person is facing if a person is not paroled on the earlier offices or the offenses in the sentencing structure, then they have to expire it after the other one has been served. If a person is not paroled on the earlier offenses, in the sentencing structure, then they have to expire it . So let’s go back to our example of a five to 15 year sentence. If a person is not paroled at the five year mark, or the six year mark, or the seven year mark, they have to continue to serve that sentence until it expires. Once it expires they can begin serving the next consecutive sentence that’s in the sentencing scheme. So the parole actually speeds up the process to get to the next charges that are down the line.