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What Happens If You Commit Another Crime While in Prison?

inmates around a picnic table with a cooler of water and an officer

Prisons have four main purposes:

  • Retribution: punishment for the initial offense
  • Incapacitation: keeping the offender out of society and in an enclosed, supervised environment
  • Deterrence: discouraging the offender, or others, from committing crimes
  • Rehabilitation: preparing the offender to re-enter society as a law-abiding citizen

While these factors all share the goal of stopping crime in both the short and long term, there are times when inmates can commit new criminal offenses while incarcerated. You may be wondering, how does this occur, and how is this type of case different? Let’s discuss what happens when new crimes are committed behind bars.

Common Offenses in Prison

You may be surprised what a wide variety of crimes are able to occur in a prison environment.

Some include:

  • Murder
  • Assault
  • Weapons charges
  • Drug crimes (possession, distribution, etc.)
  • Sexual assault
  • Theft crimes

These actions may be punishable within the prison or by filing new criminal charges against the inmate.

Prison Sanctions for Rule Violations

There are many methods of punishment that the correctional staff may use to reprimand an inmate who didn’t follow the rules or actively committed a crime.

One of the most well-known and severe punishments is solitary confinement. When in solitary confinement, the inmate lives in a cell alone, isolated for about 22 hours a day. These cells also have stricter security protocols in place. Solitary confinement has been highly criticized for having a permanently damaging effect on the individuals in the cells, due to the extreme lack of social interaction and stimulation. While it seems like this intense punishment should only be for the most dangerous individuals in prison, many inmates are subject to solitary confinement for relatively minor reasons.

Another punishment the prison may use is to revoke the inmate’s prison job. The inmate may be transferred to an unwanted position or may be unable to work altogether. This prevents them from gaining work experience, earning money, and staying busy.

An inmate may also be punished by being sent to a different high-security prison facility.

A New Criminal Case

In many cases when an inmate commits a serious crime while in prison, they will be faced with new criminal charges. This is especially true for violent offenses. In these situations, the inmate would be subject to a new trial. A judge will be able to decide if the inmate should be sentenced to additional time in prison for the new offense. The judge also has the option of adding a concurrent sentence, meaning time for the new offense can be served at the same time as the time for the initial offense.

Do Inmates Have The Right to an Attorney?

Yes! Even though the inmate is already incarcerated, they still have the right to obtain legal representation for their new charges. Although they have already been convicted of and incarcerated for a past offense, there is still a chance that new charges can be dismissed or they can be acquitted.

Committing a New Crime While on Probation

Some individuals who are convicted of criminal offenses can be sentenced to probation instead of, or after, prison time. While on probation, individuals are held to a high standard of behavior and must follow their conditions at all times.

Substantive probation violations occur when an individual on probation commits a new crime. A common example would be getting a DUI while on probation.

If found guilty of a substantive violation, the probationer could:

  • Have their probation revoked
  • Have their probation period lengthened
  • Be formally charged with the new offense

Dallas Criminal Defense Attorneys

If your loved one was recently charged with a crime in prison, or while on probation, contact us at Palmer Perlstein. We want to help protect your loved one’s rights, and ensure they get fair treatment under the law. To begin, give us a call at (214) 891-3382 to share the details of the situation.