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Moving is a stressful process. The task of finding your new home and starting a new life is daunting in itself; especially if you are moving to a new state. Under Article IV of the Constitution, citizens of each state are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states. But what does this mean?
Essentially, the Constitution directs states to recognize valid judicial proceedings and records of other states. For example, a citizen who is married in Pennsylvania and has a valid driver’s license can move to Ohio and will still be recognized as a married person with a valid driver’s license, even though neither were obtained in Ohio. How far does this privilege extend? Unfortunately, for citizens who are on parole or probation, the punishments set by one state’s court do not transfer over in other states.
The Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) is a formal agreement between states that aims to promote public safety by controlling and monitoring interstate movement of adult offenders who are deemed eligible to participate. The commission that regulates this supervision was developed in 1937 and was revised in 2002.
The mission statement from the commission reads: “The Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision will guide the transfer of offenders in a manner that promotes effective supervision strategies consistent with public safety, offender accountability, and victims’ rights.” According to the Interstate Compact Offender Tracking System (a web-based system that tracks the transfer of supervision for probationers and parolees from state to another) , over 86,000 transfer requests were processed in 2019.
Despite a seemingly protective mission statement, the protection available to citizen probationers and parolees is often limited, and in some cases, detrimental. Although the commission allows for those still on parole or probation to move to another state, it also allows for states to apply its own standards to the new resident’s crime.
For example, recently a Pennsylvania man who was convicted of his third DUI decided to move to Florida to rehabilitate and start life from a clean slate. His Pennsylvania punishment came with a sentence of three months in jail, court ordered rehab, expensive fines and five years of probation. On his last year of probation, while in Florida, the man attempted to rent an apartment, but was rejected due to having a felony background. Confused as to the mystery felony charge, the man later found out that Florida treats a third DUI as a felony offense. Despite being advised by his probation officer that his move to Florida would trigger different terms of his probation, the man had no idea that his misdemeanor would be considered a felony.
This caveat in the Interstate Compact can cause serious complications for parolees and probationers who are moving to another state. For many who make a state move, they don’t realize the implications until they are applying for jobs, housing rentals, and education, basically anything that triggers a background check.
The Interstate Compact seems contradictory to Article IV; however, it is often forgotten when analyzing constitutional provisions that the Constitution affords but rights and privileges. Violations of state law, like a DUI, result in punishments that often involve a suspension of privileges. The privilege to be able to travel interstate can be constitutionally curtailed by state law when an individual is being punished for committing a crime.
Interestingly, a recent argument has been made at the Third Circuit which contends that states who fail to give the same treatment to offenders who commit the same offense in different state violates the 14th Amendment Due Process. However, as of now, this novel argument has not changed the way the Interstate Compact operates.
If you are a citizen in the process of moving to another state while still completing probation, you should seek the advice of a lawyer as to what possible complications may arise.
Attorney Kara Beck serves on Gross McGinley’s litigation and criminal defense teams. She is well-versed in constitutional law, and serves to protect her clients’ rights and represent their best interests.