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Traveling While on Probation – Is It Allowed?


What travel is allowed for California residents who are on probation? Typically, being on probation is not the time for travel. However, family emergencies and job opportunities can take us across the country. And even if it’s just for rest and relaxation, surely there are some exceptions that allow for those serving probation to travel out of state?

Probation is typically thought of as ‘conditional release,’ meaning that you will serve your sentence outside of the walls of a prison but must still complete a certain mandated sentencing. There are some types of probation that do allow for mostly free travel. However, another type of probation does not. It is important to know which applies to you or your loved ones so that they do not run afoul of the law in their travels.

What Are the Two Types of Probation in California?

California has two types of probation.

Informal or misdemeanor probation is for low-risk offenders who are allowed to serve their time in their community instead of facing jail time. Informal probation does not come with a probation officer, so there is no need to announce travel arrangements.

Formal or felony probation is for high-risk offenders convicted of serious crimes. Either through a plea agreement or some other means, they avoided some prison time in exchange for formal probation. Formal probation requires supervision from a probation officer and comes with severe travel restrictions.

What Are the Travel Restrictions for Those Serving Informal Probation?

Though you may not be required to arrange travel with a probation officer, you must still adhere to all mandatory requirements set forth by the parole arrangement. These requirements may include counseling, community service, or taking certain classes either in a private or group setting. Travel should not interfere with these obligations.

Failure to appear in court when on informal probation can result in harsh consequences, including your immediate arrest.

What Travel Restrictions Come with Formal Probation?

Traveling to another state while on formal probation is not easily accomplished and is generally not often permitted. Some people on formal probation are not even allowed to go to the next county over. Others are not permitted to shop at certain locations or go too close to certain people or buildings.

Even in the event of a family emergency or a respectable job opportunity, it is important to get full clearance from a probation officer before planning to travel beyond California state lines. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you make a formal request for travel out of state, even if you are otherwise bound to California by the directive of your felony probation. Contact our law firm at (949) 990-4195 for legal assistance today.

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