Is Traveling While on Probation a Violation?

Probation was put in place as a way for people who have committed more minor crimes to feel the punishment without having to serve full-on jail time. Probation allows you to live your life after being convicted, but there is no glossing over it – probation comes with rules. If you break these rules, there will be a probation violation hearing and you might find yourself sent to prison.

Alongside not committing new crimes and staying away from drugs and alcohol, one of the main rules of probation is that you can’t leave the state. This rule makes sense. Your probation officer needs to keep track of you, and if you can wander freely, that is difficult to do. However, life happens and sometimes we find ourselves really needing to go out of state. If you just up and leave the state, if caught, you will face probation violation. However, the good news is that if you do need to leave, if you are candid with your probation officer you might be able to get leave to go.


If you are on probation and find yourself with a need to travel, often there are a few factors that affect your ability to do so. These factors include:

  • The type of offense
  • The circumstances required for travel
  • Communication with the probation officer

All of the above play a part in your ability to travel while on probation. For example, travel restrictions are much easier to get lifted if you committed a misdemeanor crime rather than a felony whose punishment was negotiated down to probation. However, you should still be aware that many probation officers will only consider lifting the restrictions if you need to travel for an emergency. If your mother is on her death bed in another state, this may constitute an emergency. However, if you need to travel because you want to interview for another job, it may be more difficult to get leave to go. Furthermore, if you got the job, relocating while on probation would be problematic.

All that being said, it is more likely you can get travel restrictions loosened if you are on good terms with your probation officer. They have to follow the rules for probation, but the travel restrictions were put in place for those that are a flight risk. If you have been diligent in following the terms of your probation without a huge fight at every step, you are considered less of a risk.

If you know you must travel, talk it over with your probation officer as much in advance as you can. If they agree that you can travel, you must remain in constant contact with them and be on time to do so. If there is a sudden change of plans while out of state, you must communicate these with your probation officer or risk violation. Traveling out of state while on probation is all about detailed communication, planning, and building trust with a probation officer.


In some cases, even if you committed a misdemeanor crime, have been straightforward with your probation officer, and your need to travel is indeed an emergency, your probation officer may still not let you go. If the case for preventing travel does indeed seem unfair in this respect, you can contact your lawyer to see what options you have available. Travel in cases of emergencies is not strictly prohibited and if you follow the rules it can be an option. However, probation officers are officials that have power over people and sometimes they exercise it unfairly.

If you are on probation and need to travel or are otherwise facing probation violation, contact us today to see what the Speas Law Firm can do to help you.