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Can You Travel While on Federal Pre-Trial Supervision?


Can You Travel While on Federal Pre-Trial Supervision?

Being placed on federal pre-trial supervision can feel real restrictive. It’s normal to feel frustrated about having your freedom limited. One common question folks have is whether they can travel while on supervision. The short answer is maybe. It depends on your specific situation.

Pre-trial supervision, also called pretrial release, happens after you get arrested but before your trial. The court puts conditions on your release from jail that restrict your freedom. The goal is to make sure you show up for court dates until the case gets resolved. One of the common rules is that you can’t leave the area without permission from pretrial services.

What is Federal Pretrial Supervision?

After an arrest, a judge decides whether to let you out of jail while your case moves forward. If so, they may put you on pretrial supervision, which means you have to follow rules like:

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.
  • Stay in the area and get permission to leave
  • Keep attending school or work
  • Stay away from victims, witnesses and co-defendants
  • Not use alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Follow a curfew
  • Not have a gun
  • Regularly report to a pretrial officer

Pretrial supervision means you aren’t behind bars, but you aren’t totally free either. It’s a kind of halfway point between jail and just being released. The court puts limits on what you can do until your case finishes. If you break the rules, they can revoke your release and put you back in jail.

Can You Ask to Travel While on Pretrial Supervision?

Many people want to know if its possible to get permission to travel out of the area for things like:

  • Family trips
  • Funerals
  • Medical treatment
  • Work
  • School
  • Religious events
  • Vacations

The answer is you can ask, but it isn’t guaranteed. Your pretrial officer has authority to approve or deny travel requests on a case-by-case basis. There are a few factors they consider:

Your Flight Risk

A big factor is whether you seem likely to flee and not come back for court. Defendants with strong community ties and a stable job may get approved more easily. Those with minimal ties or a history of missing court often get denied.

Distance and Length of Trip

Shorter trips close to home are more likely to get approved than long trips far away. A weekend trip to a nearby city is less risky than a month in another country.

Purpose of the Trip

Travel for medical care, family emergencies and work may be approved more readily than vacations. But even fun trips can sometimes get approved if other factors look good.

Your Compliance So Far

Those who follow all the rules may get more leeway for travel. But frequent rule breakers probably won’t get permission.

Input From Prosecutors

The pretrial officer may check with prosecutors to get their opinion on travel requests. If prosecutors object, approval is unlikely.

What Happens if You Travel Without Permission?

It’s risky to just take off traveling without getting the okay. Pretrial officers make unannounced home visits and call your references. If you aren’t where you’re supposed to be, a warrant can be issued for your arrest.

Traveling without permission shows you aren’t taking the rules seriously. It makes you look like a flight risk. You could land back in jail until the trial. At a minimum, expect much closer supervision if you get caught.

Tips for Getting Travel Approved

If you need to travel, follow these tips to boost the odds of getting approved:

  • Ask well in advance, not last minute
  • Explain exactly where, when and why you are going
  • Provide a detailed itinerary
  • Give contact info for people at your destination
  • Follow all other rules diligently
  • Stay in close touch while away

Keep requests reasonable based on your circumstances. Be cooperative, patient and respectful if they say no. You can always ask again later if things change.

Every Case is Different

There aren’t hard and fast rules about travel on pretrial release. It’s very situational and each request gets decided individually. Don’t assume permission is guaranteed or impossible.

The best approach is to be open and upfront. Explain why the travel is needed and provide a detailed plan. With a little luck and responsible behavior, the officer may give a green light.

Restrictions on freedom are part of federal pretrial supervision. But occasional travel isn’t necessarily out of the question if you make a compelling case. Be prepared to accept “no” gracefully though, because travel is always at the officer’s discretion.

Relevant Laws and Legal Precedents

A few key laws and court rulings relate to pretrial release and supervision:

  • Bail Reform Act of 1966 – Established a presumption of pretrial release except in capital cases. Required courts to consider factors like flight risk and danger to the community when setting release conditions. Limited restrictions on liberty to the least restrictive conditions needed to ensure appearance in court and community safety.
  • Bail Reform Act of 1984 – Expanded courts’ authority to detain defendants pretrial based on dangerousness grounds. Allowed more pretrial conditions like electronic monitoring, curfews and travel restrictions. Set forth specific factors judges must consider in pretrial release decisions.
  • U.S. v. Salerno – 1987 Supreme Court case upholding preventive pretrial detention on dangerousness grounds as constitutional, but emphasizing detention should be the “carefully limited exception.”
  • U.S. v. Xulam – 84 F.3d 441 (D.C. Cir. 1996) – Appeals court ruled pretrial officers have broad discretion to impose travel restrictions, and courts should generally defer to their judgment.

The key theme is that while courts can limit pretrial freedom through conditions like travel restrictions, the limitations must be reasonably related to ensuring appearance in court and public safety.

Possible Defenses to Pretrial Release Violations

If you violate conditions like unauthorized travel, possible defenses to avoid pretrial detention include:

  • Lack of Knowledge – You didn’t know about the restriction or misunderstood it.
  • No Willful Violation – Circumstances beyond your control led to the violation.
  • Technical Violation – You violated a minor condition without endangering the community.
  • Compliance with Other Conditions – You have diligently followed all other release conditions.
  • Cured Violation – You fixed the issue as soon as it was discovered.

While not guaranteed to work, defenses like these might persuade the court to give you another chance to remain released pretrial instead of revoking your supervision.


Travel during federal pretrial supervision is possible but not guaranteed. The best approach is to be cooperative, reasonable and responsible. Carefully follow all other release rules. If travel is truly necessary, discuss it openly with your pretrial officer. They may work with you to reach a solution, especially if you show yourself to be trustworthy.


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