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Don’t Violate Probation! Travel Rules for California Summary

Summary probation in California, also known as informal probation, allows offenders to serve their probation without direct supervision. If you are on summary probation and wish to leave the state, you typically need the court’s permission to do so. Failing to obtain permission can result in a probation violation.
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What is Summary Probation?

According to Greg Hill & Associates, summary probation, also known as informal probation, is a type of probation in California typically granted for misdemeanor offenses [1]. It does not require regular reporting to a probation officer, but the individual must still comply with court-ordered conditions such as paying fines, attending counseling, or completing community service. The court retains the authority to monitor compliance and can impose penalties for any violations.

Summary probation lasts from one to five years, depending upon the offense involved in the conviction.  Summary probation is reserved for people who are not deemed a danger to the community – Greg Hill & Associates

Summary Probation vs. Formal Probation

Summary probation, also known as informal probation, is typically granted for misdemeanor offenses and does not require regular reporting to a probation officer. Instead, the individual must comply with court-ordered conditions, such as paying fines or attending counseling, with the court monitoring compliance.

Formal probation, on the other hand, is usually granted for felony offenses or serious misdemeanors, requiring the individual to regularly report to a probation officer and adhere to more stringent conditions, including frequent check-ins and drug testing, with close supervision by the probation officer.

Formal probation involves more active supervision of one on probation than on informal (or summary probation) and there is a monthly probation fee to pay the probation officer, pay for periodic drug testing (if applicable), pay for a GPS monitor (if applicable) and pay for periodic polygraph testing (if applicable).

What are the Conditions of Summary Probation in California?

According to Eisner Gorin, in California, the conditions of summary probation, also known as informal probation, can vary based on the specifics of the case and the judge’s discretion [2].

Common conditions include:

  • Fines and Restitution: Payment of court-ordered fines and restitution to victims.
  • Community Service: Completion of a specified number of community service hours.
  • Counseling or Treatment Programs: Participation in counseling, therapy, or substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Obey All Laws: Requirement to obey all laws and avoid further criminal activity.
  • Court Appearances: Attendance at scheduled court appearances.
  • Employment or Education: Maintaining employment or enrollment in an educational program.
  • Restrictions: Possible restrictions on driving, travel, or association with certain individuals.

The first and most important condition of any grant of summary probation is to obey all laws and orders of the court. In effect, this means that any subsequent arrest for a new misdemeanor or felony violation or any failure to abide by the court’s orders can potentially result in a probation violation – Eisner Gorin

I Am on Summary Probation in California and I Want to Leave the State. What Should I Do?

If you are on summary probation in California and wish to leave the state, you generally need to obtain permission from the court. Here’s what you should do:

  • Petition the Court: File a formal request with the court that granted your probation, explaining your reasons for wanting to leave the state.
  • Notify Your Probation Officer: If applicable, inform any supervising authority of your intentions.
  • Comply with Court Conditions: Ensure that you are current with all probation requirements, such as fines, community service, or court appearances.

Missing a required appointment for probation in order to travel out of California is not a small violation. Judges may decide to revoke probation completely if it was not the first violation of probation. They may also revoke probation if the judge thinks it was done in bad faith.

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