I often get phone calls from people on probation or federal supervised release, and they have complaints about their current limitations. Things like:
- My probation officer won’t let me travel appropriately
- I am unable to work a certain job
- I have unfair geographic restrictions imposed on me
- My probation officer is preventing me from earning a living
- I don’t get to see my family because of these limitations
The list goes on and on.
The first thing I recommend is to let me try to contact the client’s probation officer. Since I used to be a probation officer myself, I can try to convince the officer to implement a few changes to the client’s current restrictions, to help them be able to earn a living, see their family, or any other reasonable request.
Sometimes the probation officer is able to change the rules, because the current limitations have been set down at the officer’s discretion. Other times, these rules have been appointed by the court, and this means a change to parole will require court permission.
In general, the first step is to talk with the probation officer or the supervisor, because if I can obtain my client’s desired conditions, this is the fastest way to do so. It’s much quicker to have the probation officer change the rules because they can often do so from their desk.
If the client’s current limitations have been set down by the court, we will usually have to file a motion, go to court, receive a response from the US attorney, receive a response from the probation department, write a response to their motion, and so on. It’s much more involved, and ultimately more expensive for the client.
Again, the initial step that I recommend is to allow me to try and negotiate with the probation officer or probation department, and see what that can get us.
If it becomes possible that we can change these limitations, whether due to new evidence or documentation we provide to the probation officers, or negotiation, we can help the client get their desired outcome. Clients are usually very happy with this, because they get the freedom they wanted and were able to achieve that quickly and at relatively low cost.