Can I work in another state if I’m on probation?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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If you are on probation, you still have some hope of landing a probation job in another state, but you need to get more clarification from your probation officer as to why they are vetoing your chance at gainful employment. It may be a simple issue that can be resolved. Several factors could influence your chances of getting the out-of-state job, including your behavior while on probation, how long you have been on probation, the nature of the job you want, your judge’s relationship with the probation department, and state probation agreements.

Probation May Sometimes be Transferred to a New State

Having your probation case transferred to the other state is most likely the best option available to you, assuming the other state will take you, and complying diligently with all the terms of your probation gives you the best chance at a successful transfer. Your probation officer just may not like the idea of you going to another jurisdiction.

They may also be concerned about state funding if the number of probationers in their office drops, although this is a rare problem during tough economic times. Of course, neither is a good excuse for denying your request, but you may have to petition the judge to request a modification of your probation. The judge will be more likely to grant your request for a transfer if you have done everything that you were originally ordered to do.

Similarly, how long you have been on probation will also affect modification decisions by your judge. If you have been on probation for a number of years without any issues, that is a positive factor in your favor.

On the other hand, if you have only been on probation for a few months, your probation officer may not feel that they have enough information on which to base a recommendation, something that will work against your favor. If you are almost done with your probation, instead of seeking to have your probation modified by the judge, you could simply try to request early termination and be free of all probation limitations.

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Think Realistically About the Type of Job You Seek

The type of job you want can also influence the decision of the probation officer or judge. Almost every state probation order requires you to maintain employment. However, the order also usually includes provisions about staying away from places where drugs or alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed. The judge is not likely to approve a transfer request if you want to work at a casino in Las Vegas because, among other reasons, alcoholic beverages are consumed there. Be able to demonstrate to the judge the nature and stability of the company that you want to work for. 

Finally, keep in mind the relationship between your judge and the probation department. A probation officer is charged with enforcing the court’s orders and cannot change the judge’s order. Although the probation officer and judge may work with each other on a regular basis, many judges try to keep an open mind when probationers request a modification of their probation terms. Unfortunately, some judges merely rubber-stamp the whims of the probation officers in their jurisdiction. To find out how this relationship will affect your chances of a modification, contact a local criminal defense attorney who will be familiar with these offices and personalities.

Probationers Must Rely on the New State Accepting the Transfer

Even assuming that you can get permission from the court to allow you to transfer your probation, the final decision is made by the probation office of the state you are moving to. States are not required to accept other state’s probationers. The good news is that most states will routinely approve transfers through interstate compact agreements – reciprocal probation agreements where states agree to manage one another’s transferred probationers. If your probation involves fairly standard conditions, the new state shouldn’t have any problems approving your transfer request. However, if your case requires higher maintenance due to specialized conditions, the new state may reject the transfer.

Petition the Court

If you have had an excellent history while on probation, but the new state is not willing to accept your out-of-state probation, you may be able to convince your judge to reduce the restrictions on your probation, thus enabling you to seek your out-of-state job opportunity. Petition the court for unsupervised or limited probation. Instead of reporting in person to your probation officer, you would complete and send monthly reports by mail.

Trying to override a decision by your probation officer can be done, but it involves the convergence of several factors. You may still be able to be on probation and move to a different state. If you feel that this new job opportunity is worth the effort, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney to help you develop your request for a modification.

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