Travel restrictions are a standard condition of release in criminal cases. Travel restrictions are often imposed on defendants even in minor misdemeanor cases. These restrictions are often routinely set as a condition of release even when there is no need for them. In some cases, restrictions on travel can have very harmful and unnecessary consequences for the defendant and his or her family.
It is very important to address travel restrictions at the earliest opportunity which may be at the first appearance or arraignment depending upon the circumstances. It is also very important to inform your attorney if travel restrictions will pose problems. These problems can arise in a variety of ways.
Job duties and family duties are the most common basis for modifying the conditions of release to lessen travel restrictions. Many New Mexicans must travel outside the restricted areas for a variety of job and family related reasons.
The travel restrictions often limit travel to the county of the defendant's residence. Sometimes, the travel restrictions will be less strict allowing travel to adjacent counties or even the State of New Mexico as a whole. Travel limitations which restrict travel to the county of residence or adjacent counties can cause enormous work and family related problems.
Because New Mexico is fairly spread out, people often work in counties other than where they reside. In addition, kids often go to school, have doctor's appointments, daycare, family support structures and so on outside the county of residence or even beyond adjacent counties. In addition, there are many defendants that must travel outside New Mexico for work.
Other issues can arise as well such as the need to care for sick parents or other family members that are outside the county or even the state. There may also be training and education requirements that require travel. In short, there are countless reasons a defendant might be required to travel outside his or her county or New Mexico.
Travel restrictions can cause severe burdens on the defendant and the family. At worst, the defendant could lose his or her job or the kids cannot get to school on time or perhaps at all due to the inability to travel. At best, unnecessary travel restrictions are a burden that serve neither the alleged victim or the public.
Depending upon the circumstances, the nature of the charges, the defendants criminal history, the defendant's record of attending all required hearings and so on, many judges will entertain modifications to the travel restrictions to minimize harmful and unnecessary burdens on the defendant and his or her family.
Work and family duties will be considered carefully by most judges as it is clearly to the benefit of none for the defendant to lose his job, the family to lose financial resources, or the family to suffer unnecessary burdens and losses. On the other hand, judges are less likely to entertain vacation and recreational travel though in some cases even these may be accommodated so long as the prosecutor does not oppose.
The most important thing to take from this is that the court needs to know the burdens that travel restrictions will cause the defendant. This means informing your attorney if you have one, or telling the court directly if you do not. Otherwise, the conditions are imposed as a matter of course. Once in place, it is much harder to get them modified and will require a motion and likely a hearing with the defendant present in court.