Can You Leave the State on Probation?

If you are convicted of a crime, instead of sentencing you to jail, or to serving the remainder of your jail time, a judge can opt to sentence you to probation. While on probation, it is imperative that you follow all the rules and terms of your probation or you will risk having your probation revoked and finishing your sentence in jail.

If you are on probation can you leave the state?

If you are on probation you will very likely be told that you must remain within the same state, unless you have been authorized to leave. There are specific processes where you may be permitted to leave the location where you were sentenced, but only in circumstances where authorities have received communication about the event or reason as to why you are leaving.

How can you leave the state while on probation?

If you are on probation and you would like to leave the state, you must:

  1. Contact your probation officer. This should be the person to whom you turn to for all questions and requests relating to travel out of state. 
  2. Explain to your probation officer the event or reason why you need to travel out of state and the entire circumstances surrounding why you are requesting this travel. 

This should not be a simple request in the form of “I’d like to travel out of state”.

Instead, this should be a detailed explanation such as:

In an attempt to fulfill the terms of my probation, I just got a new job. However, it is a construction job and the construction company is working on a hospital that is located across the border in the next state. I am requesting permission to travel out of state on the days that I am working, specifically for work, and to travel to and from the work site.”

The individual probation officer may grant permission to travel as long as all details of the trip are reviewed and constant communication is maintained. This will likely require more communication than is currently outlined in the terms of probation and any failure to check in or relay information to the probation officer as part of the special terms and permissions granted during out of state travel would have serious repercussions.

If there are any risks that the person asking for permission to travel will try to flee or will commit another crime, a judge or Court may decide to place “banned status” on the individual, preventing them from leaving the state for any reason.

When you are on probation can you leave the state?

There are situations where you can leave the state during your probationary period. However, travel cannot be taken without your probation officer being made aware and approving the travel.

For example: State law might allow you to leave the state for emergencies. In such cases, a judge may grant permission for you to leave during an emergency. The contingencies of such permissions are that during the time that you are out of state, you must remain in open and constant communication, and submit reports to your probation officer.

Can you leave the state on misdemeanor probation?

Leaving the state on probation is often easier to approve for misdemeanor cases, but it depends on the particular case, and the criminal activity or charges against the convicted, among other factors.

In the case of a misdemeanor, a person may get probation, rather than jail time, by submitting a guilty plea. A misdemeanor is potentially easier when it comes to making arrangements for traveling out of state that is absolutely necessary. The leniency applied to an individual’s case may also extend to the ability to travel out of state in order to keep an existing job, often when maintaining a job is another aspect of the probation requirements.

The less severe the charge for the convicted, the higher the likelihood that a probation officer will approve an instance of travel out of state. If an individual is approved for out-of-state travel on a misdemeanor probation charge, and they violate any terms of that travel, perhaps failing to communicate regularly with their probation officer or changing their travel plans without permission, it would be legal grounds for violated probation. This could mean that the individual is arrested and now charged with the full extent of their crime with all probation revoked. An individual who was given probation instead of jail time who is convicted of probation violation during approved out-of-state travel may very likely face the extent of their jail time or at the very least the remainder of their sentence in jail.

Can someone on probation leave the state?

In the case of a felony probation, in most situations the conviction has already resulted in the arrested person serving jail time at a state prison. 

This means there may or may not be a higher flight risk associated with that individual. This  means that if they are allowed to leave the state unsupervised, it is likely that they will violate probation and go into hiding to avoid serving the rest of their probation sentence or subsequent jail time.

If an individual is considered a flight risk, the formal terms of the defendant’s probation might actually outline they’re not allowed to leave the state under any circumstances. That being said, a lawyer can still contact the County Court for serious emergencies and submit a request for consent.

A convicted felon who communicates a very serious matter and remains in open contact at all times may be granted permission to travel to another state. However, if they digress from their plans and fail to relay anything to their probation officer at any time, it could be grounds for probation violations and a warrant for their subsequent arrest. They would then be charged with finishing the remainder of their sentence without the option for probation or parole.

Final Thoughts

An individual on probation is not allowed to leave the state on their own without cause. There are, however, circumstances during which someone on probation can leave the state, whether they are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. To do so, there must be a specific reason, permission given, and the convicted must adhere to the requirements laid out by the probation officer for the duration of their travel.

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