Absconding from Probation

What does it mean to “abscond” from probation supervision? “Absconder” is not defined statutorily; rather, it is defined in Division of Community Corrections (DCC) policy as “an offender who is actively avoiding supervision by making his/her whereabouts unknown to the supervising officer.” DCC makes a searchable list of all absconders available to the public here (click on the absconder tab at the top of the page, and you can search by last name or by county). Statewide, there are about 12,000 probationers who have absconded probation – about 10% of all supervised probationers. That’s down from the 14,000 figure the News & Observer frequently cited in its “Losing Track” series, but obviously still a high number. One of the reasons the number stays so high is that district attorneys and DCC are disinclined to remove anyone from the list, even for cases that would have expired many years ago. Rightly so – as I’ll discuss in a minute, there’s no other way to retain jurisdiction over a probationer who might someday turn up. So, the 12,000-probationer list, which undoubtedly includes a good number of bad people “actively avoiding supervision,” probably also includes a fair number of low-risk folks who might have changed addresses, moved out of the state, gotten married and changed names, been hospitalized, or died. Regardless, it’s a bad situation for everyone, including court officials who have to explain why a handful of decades-old cases make it look like it takes 7 months to resolve the average probation violation. I digress.

Back to my original question: what does it mean to abscond probation? As I said, the General Statutes don’t really mention absconding at all, except in G.S. 15A-837(a)(6), which places on DCC a duty to inform crime victims within 72 hours when a victim has absconded supervision. That may be tricky, though, because a probationer doesn’t become an absconder the moment he or she misses a curfew check. Here are DCC’s policy requirements for declaring someone an absconder:


Suppose all these requirements are met and an officer files a report alleging that a person absconded. Is it a problem that hardly anyone has as an explicit condition of probation that says “don’t abscond”? No. Depending on the circumstances, absconding probably constitutes a violation of multiple conditions of probation – G.S. 15A-1343(b)(2) (remain within the jurisdiction), G.S. 15A-1343(b)(3) (report to a probation officer as directed), and other conditions in certain cases. And we know from a recent court of appeals case that notice of the offending behavior – even if not tied to a particular condition – gives a probationer sufficient notice of the alleged violation under G.S. 15A-1345(e). State v. Hubbard, __ N.C. App. __ (2009). Nevertheless, if a violation report alleges that a person absconded, it seems to me that the probation officer should be prepared to testify at the violation hearing that he or she fulfilled all the necessary administrative requirements before declaring the probationer an absconder.

Finally, note that absconder violations are not immune from the jurisdictional requirements that apply to all probation violations – even if the State is unable to hold the hearing before the period of supervision expires precisely because the probationer can’t be found. The requirement in G.S. 15A-1344(f) that the State file a written violation report before the probation term expires to preserve the court’s ability to act applies with equal force to absconders. State v. High, 183 N.C. App. 443 (2007). Under prior law, the fact that a person had absconded might have been relevant to the court’s determination of whether the State had made a “reasonable effort to notify the probationer and to conduct the hearing earlier,” but legislation passed last year (S.L. 2008-129) did away with that requirement for violation hearings held after December 1, 2008. So, cases like State v. Black, __ N.C. App. __, 677 S.E.2d 199 (2009) (holding that a court lacked jurisdiction to revoke a defendant’s probation after expiration when the State failed to make the requisite “reasonable efforts”), should, except for those already in the appellate pipeline, be a dying breed.

20 comments on “Absconding from Probation

  1. As a former Probation Officer of 12 years, every case I violated for absconding included violations of several different conditions of supervision. In all of the cases that I completed a violation report on, I was prepared to testify to each step that I completed to ‘abscond’ the offender. Further, the requirements of DCC policy are known as well by the offender population as they are by the officers and leaders of DCC if not better understood. Therefore, if the offender has missed a curfew or appointment with the officer the imaginary clock (30 days, 14 days or 24 hours) starts. All they have to do is ‘reset’ the clock by calling the officer, ‘dropping in’ to see the officer without an appointment, or being home 1 time during curfew. What people don’t seem to understand is that offenders that abscond (probationers & post-releasees) are criminals of the highest order and they do not abscond by ‘mistake’. Offenders abscond because they can’t/won’t pay their fees/fines, the officer is doing contacts that impede criminal activity, the offender is using illegal drugs, or they do not want to be supervised in the first place. Absconding is also not taken seriously by the DCC leadership because once the case is violated for ‘absconding’ it becomes by nature a case that is not actively supervised. The primary goal of DCC is to deal with the ever increasing onslaught of new and recurring cases generated by the court system. DCC leaders will expound on a goal of ‘public safety’ but all officers really do is attempt to keep their collective heads above a tide of case after case and ‘stress’ over when one of their offenders is going to go out and kill someone. Sure , absconders are assigned to Surveillance Officers following the violation and warrant issuance but all they have time to do is a criminal records check or two a month, because they are also checking up on active offenders. The 12,000 absconders reported by DCC may actually be a low figure because who’s to know how many offenders are really actively avoiding being supervised and just ‘resetting the clock’ every so often.

    • my son was in a severve car accident with head trauma and has perm brain damage he lost his home his job everything i contacted his po and left several mesages about this and she never returned my call,he called her when he was able to speak.and left messages she never called ,he receieved aletter from her that was forwarded to his dads new home that he got 2 months after his dad got it saying he needed to report ,he called her again and left a message he couldnt walk was still under medical care ,again nothing back from her he had concurrent sentance starting in 06 1 yr ,07 18 m ,08 1 year all concurrent to sentance number 1 which made his probation run out in april 09 he told her on her answer machine as soon as he got his settlement from insurance co he would finish paying what he owed ,i paid some for him,again no reply then in july of 09 she put him as absconder .so not all po do their job ,he did not abscond he was seriously injured in a car wreck that almost cost him his life.he has frontal lobe damage that will effect him the rest of his life.so not everyone that have been absconded are trying to hide ,this is a case where i know she was contacted and she did not call me back or him or his dad.so how did she abscond him when she was contacted about his situatuion,and his probation run out 3 months before she even filed the absconder on him .there are people who do abscond on purpose but there are some who do not but get put on there .there are some really good po s and there are some bad ones ,just like any job

  2. did ur son have to go to prison after all of that

  3. Is violating misdemeanor probation by abscondering a felony? He has served 141 days of a 150 day sentence. They now say he has to go to DOC for remanding days? So confused.

  4. My name is DAniel HEwett Im a absconder I need legal help I was wrongfully treated horrible by my probation officer in Burgaw Nc an I refuse to turn myself in because I payed my do’s. My father called an asked them is there anything I can do to fix things they said no except get ready to go to prison I’ve been tormented font this for so long any advice?

  5. i am an absconer of minor probation in lauisianna and now live in texas and never went back to lauisianna….can i get my texas id if i never go back to lauisianna

  6. What if someone you know has been on statewide absconding list for a few months but now he’s not?

  7. What to do if I absconded parole

    • I’m trying to find out to it was not my fault the way it went

  8. I been charged absconder and was not my fault for the way it all went down the way it did had a lot going on when i was forced out my home and all and i don’t want to do time i want another chance at probation and all what should i do i go to court on june 4th please help

  9. i absconded from florida probation in 2003 and now i want to go back to mflorisa will i end up in prison its amy first violation

  10. I posted a $1000 cash bond for absconder in North Carolina. It was told to me that the money went towards my restitution which paid it off. I’m just behind in supervision fees. My probation officer do know my where abouts. I moved back to New York. Once I founded out that I had the cash bond, I went to NC to post it.What I’m not getting is that if my restitution is paid off,why don’t they just terminate my probation. I feel if I’m being punished two times.

  11. I want to know the sentencing process for someone who has absconded and been caught. My husband just got arrested yesterday and he has his first appearance tomorrow. Has anyone been through this before more than once and got out without months? This is like his second time absconding and getting caught up. (its so tiring btw, please just do the right thing if you have a family..which we do) Thanks!

    • Will u be sent to prison if u abscond on misdemeanor probation they were supposed to transfer his probation because we became homeless no jobs nothing he went seen him told him he needed to start the process but po never did his po even knew he was working out of town told him he would start transfer but has now put him on absconding list help

      • Round about same thing happened to me 4 years later after being a witness for some one whose house was broken into & being served with papers plus being involved in traffic stops never being arrested for a warrant one day they just threw the cuffs on me threw me put me in jail found me guilty I appealed & haven’t heard anything for months stay on edge not knowing when it will be the next time they decide to lock me up I had never been in any kind of trouble the probation was because my 15 year old daughter was skipping school the school never informed me until 69 days later when they served the first warrant even though I had witnesses to her going to school & then leaving without my knowledge I am still the 1 punished for & it looks like I’ll still have to serve time for this

  12. […] to act on the violation after probation expires under G.S. 15A-1344(f) (discussed at the end of this post). Without a violation report, there really isn’t any probation matter before the conviction court […]

  13. […] in July the court of appeals decided State v. Hubbard, a probation revocation case that I mentioned in passing but never really discussed in depth. In Hubbard the defendant’s probation officer filed a […]

  14. I’ve absconded probation 3 times and parole once. I do no drugs or actively seek to be a criminal. I do not like my where abouts monitored because the judicial system deems it a must. I’m absconding probation at this very moment for to and a half months and still no warrant. I actively check the website doc and nothing. I was placed on probation for felony assault in 9/2017 because I was attacked first and he pressed charges cause I ruined his face. North Carolina is horrible. They came and got me for 9 months post release revocation all the way from Salt Lake city Utah. North Carolina is petty as f. I’m not going to report to some one and tell them my every move because they think I have to. I don’t do drugs or seek to do Criminal activities. Shit happens. I get placed on probation, I automatically leave the day I see them and say nothing else to them until they catch me. Dont turn yourself in, let the cops be cops. That’s their job.

  15. if someone is on misdemeanor probation in north carolina and left to move to florida before probation was over would north carolina come get them?

  16. If u have a probation violation 4 years after your probation is done. And they say u abscond then it’s brought to the court 19 years later is this legal is there any statue of limitations for these charges