Answer: It depends on the terms of your probation, the state you live in, and where you want to move to.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can a Probation Officer Stop You From Moving? (Explained)
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Terms of Probation
First and foremost, the terms of your probation control what you can and cannot do while on probation.
There are different kinds of probation, and they have many names depending upon the state and court.
In general, there is a serious kind of probation and a less serious kind of probation.
The more serious kind of probation is usually ordered for felony convictions, or repeat offenders of misdemeanor crimes.
The less serious kind of probation is usually ordered for less serious crimes and first-time offenders.
Common orders for probation require the defendant to:
- commit no new crimes
- obey all laws (including traffic laws)
- not possess or use alcohol or controlled substances
- only drive if properly licensed
- stay away from specific people or places
- pay a fine and restitution
- complete treatment or counseling at the request of the supervisor
- not leave the state
- report changes of employment, school, or address
- consent to a search of the defendant’s person, vehicle or residence
If the probation orders include the words “follow the instructions of the assigned probation officer,” the probation officer will have the power to approve/dis-approve your proposed living conditions.
The state may also have laws/statutes that govern the duties and authority of the probation officer.
In general, the more serious the criminal charge (and criminal history), the more restrictive the probation will likely be.
How Can A Probation Officer Stop You From Moving?
There’s two ways that a probation officer can stop a defendant from doing something on probation.
First, the probation officer can just say “no.”
Second, the probation officer can threaten to file a probation violation report and institute the proceeding to sanction the defendant for change your probation terms to encourage the defendant to stay where he is or move some place else that the probation officer approves.
Third, the probation officer can actually file the probation violation report, and request that the defendant be sanctioned for his disregard of his supervision of the defendant.
If the allegations are admitted or proven, the court can order the defendant to go to jail, and modify the terms of the defendant’s probation to help the defendant perform well on probation.
Reasons Why A Probation Officer Might Stop You From Moving
There are a lot of reasons why a probation officer might want to stop a defendant from moving.
First, the defendant’s choice of residence might be out of the state, out of the city, or too far from the supervisor to keep an eye on him.
Sometimes a potential residence could make it difficult for a defendant to get to court, to treatment, to meetings, or to work (like if the house is located out in the country and the defendant has no car).
Second, the defendant’s choice of residence might put him in danger of violating other aspects of his probation, like the prohibition against associating with felons or from possessing banned items.
The probation officer has a vested interest in the defendant succeeding on probation; when the defendant completes probation, the defendant’s case comes off of the PO’s case load.
What If A Defendant Wants To Move?
The first step is to talk to the probation officer about it.
Some moves (like moving to another apartment in the same building) might not cause any trouble at all.
Other moves (like to another city or state) are not that simple, as the defendant’s supervision might have to be transferred to the new location before the defendant can go there.
Even if the probation officer wants to say okay, he won’t be able to until the defendant has been accepted in the proposed location.
The accepting location might only accept the defendant if the defendant meets several requirements, such as having a job, having family in the state, having paid all his fines/restitution, etc.
If you are compliant with your probation, communicate consistently with the PO, and you show the PO that you are serious about moving by making sure that the accepting state’s conditions are met, the PO will be more likely to assist you.
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