By Staff Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
Question: “I got into some trouble while in Colorado. As much as I enjoy the scenery and skiing here, I just want to go home to Texas (or Kansas, or wherever). When can I?”
Answer: “When Colorado and Texas say you can. Not before.”
Once you indicate a desire to move out of state, you are subject to the terms of the Federal Interstate Compact. In a nutshell, states are required to follow a uniform process when transferring a person’s probation to another state. If you have a felony probation (resulting from a conviction) the process is more formalized, and you cannot leave until you have been cleared to do so.
If you were a bona fide resident of Texas, and just got into trouble while here temporarily (say, on vacation, or a temporary business assignment), you will need to go to the local probation department in Colorado where you were sentenced, and ask for Reporting Instructions back in your home county in Texas. Generally, this process goes quickly- perhaps a few days-and you then are provided, in writing, specific instructions on which probation office in Texas to report to, whom you are to see, and when to show up. When you get these instructions, you are then free to go home, but you must still follow all conditions of your Colorado probation while in Texas. Not so bad, was it?
Let’s now say you got into trouble here as a Colorado resident, got probation, but now want to start a new life and relocate to Texas to serve your probation. Don’t pack your bags just yet. Even if your Colorado judge says it’s OK, that’s just one hurdle. You must put in a Transfer Request, once again to your local probation officer, specifying how and why you should be allowed to relocate to Texas (the state you wish to relocate to is known as the receiving state).
You’ll need a sponsor in Texas of some sort, who will vouch for your ability to find housing, maintain employment, and meet the terms of your probation. For example, if you have lost your driving privileges, you’ll need to show that you can get to work somehow, and legally. If you are required to take drug treatment, those services must exist where you plan to live, and you’ll have to be able to pay what is required.
This process takes longer, likely weeks, maybe months to gain final approval. It is also more discretionary with the receiving state, who can decide you might not succeed under their rules. If you are not in substantial compliance with probation in Colorado, you are unlikely to be approved to leave and just try again elsewhere. Assuming, however, you persevere and get permission, you’re still on probation in your Colorado case until you are discharged. If you violate any terms while in Texas, you can be extradited back to Colorado to face the consequences.
These are just the basics principles. There are different rules and requirements for deferred sentences, misdemeanors, repeat DUI offenders, domestic violence cases, sex offenders, cases involving firearms, and for members of the military, or their dependents.
Each case is individualized to some degree, and an attorney familiar with local practices and procedures can assist you in getting back home. Good luck, and stay safe.