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Moving Out of State While On Probation

In most misdemeanor–and many felony–cases, a defendant is not sent to jail upon conviction. Instead, Texas law allows the judge to sentence the defendant to community supervision, which is more commonly known as “probation” in other states. Probation basically means the defendant remains free, subject to his or her compliance with certain conditions imposed by the court. In misdemeanor cases, probation can last up to 2 years. In felony cases, probation may run as long as 10 years, although it is possible to seek early release under certain circumstances.

If you are under community supervision in Collin County, Texas, you know that you must frequently report to a probation officer. You must also typically obtain your probation officer’s permission to change jobs or residences. This raises a number of questions that you might not have previously considered: What if I want to move outside of Texas? Can I do so? And does my probation continue in my new state? Alternatively, if you are currently serving probation in another state, is it possible to move to Texas?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to move from one state to another while on probation. Texas is part of a legal agreement known as the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. This is basically a contract between the 50 state governments and the District of Columbia that makes it possible to “transfer” probation from one jurisdiction to another.

Mandatory Transfer of Supervision

So how does the Interstate Compact work? Let’s say you are currently serving probation here in Texas and you want to move to Arizona. In order to make that happen, you must file an application with your probation officer before you move. If your probation officer and the State of Texas approve your application, it is then sent to Arizona officials for their review and approval.

In some cases, the receiving state–Arizona in our hypothetical example–must accept your application. This is known as a “mandatory transfer of supervision.” But you are only qualified for a mandatory transfer if you meet all of the following conditions:

  1. There are more than 90 calendar days left on your term of probation.
  2. You have a “valid plan of supervision.”
  3. You are in “substantial compliance” with your existing probation conditions.
  4. You are a resident of the receiving state.
  5. You have family members who live in the receiving state and are willing and able to assist with your plan of supervision.
  6. You can obtain a job in the receiving state or possess other financial means to support yourself.

There are also scenarios where a receiving state must accept a qualified transfer from an offender who is either a member of the armed forces or a family member who lives with a member of the armed forces. For example:

  1. You are a member of the armed forces currently on probation in Texas and you have been deployed to the receiving state.
  2. You are a civilian on probation in Texas but married to a spouse who has been deployed to the receiving state.

Along similar lines, if you or your spouse hold a non-military job and a transfer to another state is necessary as a condition of maintaining your employment, you are eligible for a mandatory transfer under the Interstate Compact, assuming the person on probation still meets all of the other conditions described above.

Discretionary Transfers

Even if you do not qualify for a mandatory transfer of supervision, you can still apply for a discretionary transfer under the Interstate Compact. Keep in mind, however, that discretionary means just that–neither the sending nor the receiving state is obligated to grant your request. Under the Interstate Compact, the sending state must provide “sufficient documentation” to justify an offender’s request. But the receiving state is still free to say no, provided they specify their reasons.

Also note that even in mandatory transfer cases, the receiving state still has the right to conduct an investigation to ensure the offender meets all of the requirements under the Interstate Compact. According to the terms of the agreement, the receiving state typically has 45 calendar days from the receipt of the sending state’s request to complete its investigation.

Contact a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

This is only a brief overview of the Interstate Compact and how it works. If you have any further questions about how transferring your probation to or from another state may apply to your family situation, you need to speak with a qualified criminal lawyer in Collin County. Contact the dedicated Collin County probation violation lawyers at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian if you need immediate legal advice or assistance.

Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : August 14, 2023