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Probation and Travel Restrictions in California

Probation Travel Restrictions

Lot’s of old clients have been calling since about Thanksgiving time asking for permission to travel for the holidays.  When clients are on felony probation, they cannot leave their home county for more than 72 hours without permission from the court or the probation officer.  They cannot leave the state at all without permission.

When clients try calling probation, they usually get a voicemail.  They rarely get a call back.  When clients walk in to see probation, they normally get the same response: Go ask the judge.

I wouldn’t think it would be so hard to get permission to travel.  But, we must remember that probation is a privilege and not a right. Thus, travelling is a luxury that requires the blessing of either the wannabe cops at the probation office or the great robed people on their pedestals in the courthouse.

Here’s where it gets really fun.  In Los Angeles County, in order to put a case on calendar (even to ask for permission to travel) we must go to court, normally before 9:30 a.m. and ask to have the case placed on calendar. If the court calendar is too busy, come back another day.  If you want to try and schedule a date with the clerk, you can try. Calling courtroom in Los Angeles is fun too. Many clerks don’t like answering their phones.  Most don’t have voicemail and if they do, don’t expect a call back.  If you do see or talk to a clerk, they will often tell you the first available date is not for several weeks.

When you do get before the judge, the first question from the judge is: Why didn’t you ask probation for permission?”  When the answer is: “Probation didn’t return my three phone calls.”, The judge will normally be annoyed.  Then the court will want to order a new probation report to get probation’s input on whether or not the defendant should be allowed to travel.  So, the same probation officer who didn’t bother to return their probationers calls is being asked to write a new report (do more work) and tell the court if they think travel is ok.

The report normally takes three weeks or more.  This means we have to come back to court again in a month.  Upon our return to court, the probation report is often not there on time.  The clerk will have to call probation to get the report faxed over or we have to come back another day.

If we are lucky enough to have a favorable report from probation, the court will often give us permission to travel.  But this is not before we have to notify probation of the trip and check in with them again as soon as we get back from the trip.

Seems like a lot of work just to see family.  The process could be done in a day with a phone call, but often takes weeks due to county bureaucracy.  The moral to the story is to plan ahead – way ahead.  Be patient with the court and court staff and don’t plan on visiting Canada or Japan while on felony probation. That’s a story for another blog.

If you need permission to travel while on probation or any other post-conviction relief like early termination of probations, expungements, cases reduced from felonies to misdemeanors or even resentencing, call a lawyer who has made a career out of going the extra mile for his clients.

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens

(818) 783-5700