California Probation Law: the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision (“ICAOS”)

The Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision ("ICAOS") is an agreement that governs interstate travel by people on probation. It contains a uniform set of procedures and conditions under which U.S. states and territories will allow most probationers to move or travel to another state.

Under ICAOS, probationers who wish to leave California must obtain the consent of both California and the state they want to travel to. The procedure is lengthy and time-consuming. And there is often no guarantee the states will grant permission.

But travelling to another state without permission is a probation violation in California. If the offender is caught, the court will most likely revoke probation and sentence the offender to jail or prison.

To help you better understand ICAOS, our California criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below: 

You may also wish to review our articles on "Felony Probation in California" and "California Misdemeanor Probation." 

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1. What is the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision?

The Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision ("ICAOS") is an agreement among the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. It exists to ensure public safety by setting forth consistent rules for the transfer of adult offenders from one state to another.

2. Who does ICAOS apply to?

ICAOS applies to everyone convicted of a felony in California or any other U.S. state or territory. It also applies to people convicted of a California misdemeanor if:

  • Their sentence includes 1 year or more of supervision, and 
  • The crime consisted of or involved:

2.1. Am I subject to ICAOS if I received a deferred sentence or pre-trial release?

Offenders subject to California drug diversion or other deferred sentences are eligible for transfer of supervision under ICAOS.

But people subject to supervision under a pre-trial release program, bail, or similar program are not eligible for transfer under ICAOS.

You are also ineligible for transfer under ICAOS if you are on furlough, work-release, or another California pre-parole program.

2.2. What if I don't qualify for transfer under ICAOS?

People not eligible for transfer under ICAOS remain subject to California laws and regulations restricting travel by probationers.

However, California may request transfer of supervision of an offender who does not meet ICAOS eligibility requirements if the transfer would:

  1. Support successful completion of supervision and rehabilitation of the offender,
  2. Promote public safety, and
  3. Protect the rights of victims.

3. What travel is subject to ICAOS?

ICAOS applies when:

  • Someone on probation in California wants to move to another state or U.S. territory, or
  • Someone on probation in California wants to travel out of state (if court approval for travel is a condition of their probation).

4. Does a court have to let someone on probation move?

It is always up to the offender's home state whether to let someone on probation relocate. But if the sending state approves the transfer, the “receiving” state must accept it as long as the offender:

  • Has more than 90 calendar days of supervision (or an indefinite period) remaining;
  • Has a valid plan of supervision (as determined by the offender's probation officer);
  • Is in substantial compliance with the terms of supervision in the sending state;
  • Can obtain employment in the receiving state or has another means of support.and
    • Is a resident of the receiving state; or
    • Has resident family in the receiving state willing and able to assist as specified in the plan of supervision.
smiling female office manager interviewing an older male candidate

5. What is the process for getting my probation transferred out of state?

The process for getting a transfer under ICAOS is lengthy and complicated. It is recommended that someone on probation hire an experienced California criminal lawyer to help with the process.

In brief, however, the steps are:

  1. Talk to your probation officer about your desire to move.
  2. If the probation officer approves the plant, complete and file an application.
  3. Wait for approval from the ICAOS office in your home state.
  4. If approved, have your application transferred to the receiving state.
  5. Wait for the receiving state to investigate your application.
  6. If approved, get reporting instructions from the new state.
  7. Pay any necessary fees and move.
  8. Report in with your new probation officer.

For a visual illustration of how the Interstate Compact works, you may wish to refer to this helpful ICAOS flowchart.

6. What can I do to improve the chances of my transfer being approved?

Transfer is more likely if the person on probation has good prospects in the receiving state. A job offer, place to live and family within the state help.

It also helps if the person requesting the transfer has completed all required conditions of probation and paid all fines, court costs and restitution.

An experienced California probation lawyer can greatly increase a probationer's chance of getting permission to leave the state.

7. Does probation cost the same in other states as it does in California?

Every state charges a different amount for probation supervision. You can get an idea of what transfer and supervision for each state will cost by referring to this ICAOS cost chart.

8. Will my victim be told of my move?

One of the purposes of ICAOS is victim safety.

Officials will notify victim(s), if any, of a probationer's desire to travel or relocate to another state.

9. Do people on probation need permission to travel outside of California temporarily?

People on probation in California should refer to their conditions of probation to determine whether they need permission to travel out of state.

Written permission is usually required if the supervision has been designated a “victim sensitive” matter.

An ICAOS travel permit must include a starting and ending date for travel. It can be for as little as 24 hours to a maximum of 31 calendar days.

9.1. Restrictions on travel to motorcycle rallies

States often request that ICAOS restrict the right of travel to biker rallies by people on probation.

If you are thinking about attending an out-of-state biker rally, we recommend checking ICAOS' page on State-Requested Travel Restrictions

10. What happens if someone on probation leaves California without permission?

A person who violates probation by traveling out of state without permission can be arrested and returned to California without a hearing.

The probation department may then recommend that the judge revoke probation and send the offender to prison. Or the judge can lengthen the period of probation and add additional terms and conditions.

female judge behind bench in discussion with male lawyer

11. How does California keep track of people on probation?

ICAOS keeps track of people on probation using the Interstate Compact Offender Tracking System ("ICOTS") public web portal. ICOTS logs information such as when a person on probation leaves a state, enters a state, or violates probation.

The general public can access limited information about the location of people on probation through ICOTS. The public can also locate convicted sex offenders through the California sex offender registry.

12. Can the receiving state impose new conditions of probation?

The receiving state is free to impose similar restrictions to people on probation for the same crime in the receiving state.

13. What happens if someone on probation breaks the law in the receiving state?

Despite a probationer's relocation, California still retains jurisdiction over someone sentenced in the state. California can, therefore, order the offender's return.

One minor crime – such as a traffic misdemeanor -- usually won't cause California to demand an offender's return. But a more serious crime may result in transfer back to the state for a California probation violation hearing.

14. Who regulates the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision in California?

The California State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision oversees and coordinates the Interstate Compact at the state level. The State Council is comprised of governor-appointed administrators, law enforcement personnel and members of the state legislature.

On probation? Want to leave California? Call us for help…

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you're on probation in California and wish to leave the state, we invite you to call us for a free consultation.

Our caring California criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of helping probationers with relocation.

We can help determine your eligibility, prepare your application and advocate your case.

To speak to a lawyer about your case call us at (855) LAWFIRM. Or fill out the form on this page and we will contact you at a convenient time.

We can also help you if you want to move while on probation in Nevada or while on probation in Colorado.

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The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

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