Under What Circumstances Can You Apply for Early Release Due to COVID-19?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

May prisoners across the country have faced unfair exposure to COVID-19 in prison.  As the virus continues to grow and spread, inmates across the country face reduced freedoms and might face the risk of getting sick.  In many states, you can get released early because of COVID-19 if you meet certain conditions or criteria.  Andrew Shubin, our attorney for early release petitions for COVID-19, explains.

Who Can Get Released from Prison Early for COVID-19?

Many people should be released early from prison to prevent the risk of contracting COVID-19 from the coronavirus.  The people most at risk are often older adults and people with preexisting health conditions that could complicate matters if they also catch the coronavirus.

Even if these people are more at risk, everyone is at risk from this disease.  As of the writing of this article, there are no approved vaccines or medications for COVID-19.  Patients who contract the virus could suffer severe complications without preexisting conditions, which also means that truly any prisoner could be at risk from this virus.  Moreover, the rate of people catching this disease is much higher in prison.

Even so, most efforts to release prisoners early focus on these vulnerable populations.

Other Criteria to Get Released Early for Coronavirus

If other circumstances are present in your case, you might also be able to file a petition for early release because of coronavirus.  Many states are focused on early release petitions that meet the following criteria to help reduce prison populations and avoid the spread of the disease:

Inmates Eligible for Parole

If you are currently eligible for parole or predetermined early release, you might be able to have your application pushed through faster because of coronavirus.  Inmates who the parole board or the prison system have already deemed eligible for early release are being fast-tracked in many states, with petitions approved more quickly to get the inmates out the door.  Talk to an inmate early release petitions lawyer about whether you can get parole.

Inmates Close to Parole

In addition to those already eligible for parole, some states have started pushing through parole applications for inmates who were close to qualifying.  That means that if your parole eligibility date is coming up, you could be entitled to apply early to try to get released from prison because of COVID-19.  For federal inmates looking for early release from COVID-19, parole is not usually available unless you went to prison before November 1987, but there may be other methods to seek release.

Bail and Pretrial Release

If you are in jail, you might be eligible for pre-trial release.  Even without the coronavirus pandemic, many people arrested on crimes and sent to jail can be released while they await trial.  In some states, there is a presumption that people will be released if the crime they committed was not violent, and some states have reduced or virtually eliminated cash bail, meaning that many arrestees can seek release from jail.

If you apply for a bail hearing or bail reduction hear, your attorney might be able to get the judge to agree to release you or to reduce bail so that you can afford to be released.  Your lawyer can file the proper requests with the court, and some of these hearings might even be held remotely while lockdown orders are in place in various states and counties.

Nonviolent Offenders

If you were convicted of a nonviolent offense like theft or simple drug possession, there is little reason to hold you in prison in the first place.  Incarceration should be reserved for only the most serious offenders.  In recognition of this, some states have taken steps to try to move nonviolent offenders out of lockup.  This could mean moving them to probation/parole or simply ending their sentences early to release them from incarceration.


In some cases, you might be eligible to request resentencing.  Especially if your case has just ended and you are now looking at prison time, you could be eligible to appeal your sentence and have the judge reconsider the sentence given.  In many cases, defendants could be eligible for probation.  That would allow them to stay out of prison on the condition that they follow terms of supervision and oversight by a probation officer.  If you can get probation, you might be able to serve your time on the outside.

Other alternative sentencing options are available.  House arrest and GPS ankle monitoring might be an option in some cases, allowing you to serve your time under strict restrictions, but again allowing you to stay out of jail.  If you were supposed to face a jail sentence of less than a year, it is more likely that you could have your case resentenced to these kinds of restrictions.  Alternatively, a judge might be willing to order community service and treatment outside of jail in light of the dangerous circumstances, especially if you are in the at-risk groups who could face serious effects of the virus in jail.


If all else fails, you might be able to petition your state’s governor or the U.S. Office of the Pardon Attorney to get clemency or a reprieve, allowing the rest of your sentence to be cleared.  This is rare, but it is possible that some officials might be more lenient under the given circumstances.

Call Our Lawyer for Early Inmate Release from Coronavirus for a Free Case Consultation

If you or a loved one is in jail during the coronavirus pandemic, they might be at a higher risk of getting sick because of the close-quarters conditions in jails.  For help seeking an early release, call our civil and constitutional rights lawyer at The Law Offices of Andrew Shubin today.  Our attorney offers free legal consultations and represents clients throughout the country in early release petition cases.  Call us for your free legal consultation at (814) 826-3586.