By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I’ve met with thousands of people facing criminal charges. The vast majority visiting my office have been through the humbling trauma of an arrest. This series is about the most common questions I’m asked.
Question #5 — Can I Travel After I’ve Been Arrested?
If you’ve been arrested and are released on bond — the answer is normally “yes.” The whole point of going to jail then being released on bond is to assure you show up to face the charges against you. If criminal court was voluntary – no one would go.
But understand travel is relative. Your bondsman and the court care much less if you’re going on business to Texarkana than if you are going on business to Dubai.
My office is in Collin County. We have a very international populace here. It isn’t uncommon at all to have people who travel the globe either for business or to visit family… so this topic is frequent enough to be in my top 5.
Travel can be restricted one of three ways. First, the Court can restrict your travel as what is known as a “term and condition of bond.” This means it is the Court itself ordering you either to remain in the county where you are charged (or in neighboring counties). Some counties are stricter than others. You know who you are (Tarrant!) If the Court has ordered you to surrender your passport then clearly you’re prohibited from leaving the US. These cases tend to be reserved for more serious allegations.
A second way travel can be restricted is by your bail bondsman. When you use a bondsman you have entered into a private contract. In that contract, you may or may not have agreed to remain in a certain area. Few people read the fine print of the contract with a bondsman as travel tends to be a low concern when getting out of jail – but your bondsman can have you re-arrested if you like to travel without approval.
The third way travel can be restricted is by the place you’re going. I’ve not encountered problems in other US states – and I don’t know what the law says in other countries. A foreign country might not let you in based on your arrest alone.
Bottom line — you are usually going to be fine to travel facing the majority of state charges. Travel should always be a situation where you ask for permission and not forgiveness. It obviously doesn’t hurt to ask, though, if you’re not sure.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is licensed to practice by the State Bar of Texas. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. For legal advice you should contact an attorney directly.