House arrest may be used instead of incarceration in a jail or prison, for convicts who are determined to be eligible for it. The term “house arrest” is a little misleading, because, typically, the convict is not kept strictly at home at all times.
Instead, those on house arrest are usually allowed to work, and to travel outside the home for reasons such as attending school, medical appointments or court appearances, or other appointments and errands that have been pre-approved. There is usually a nighttime curfew involved.
House arrest may be given upon conviction and sentencing, and it may also be used in cases where the court wishes to confine a defendant during the pretrial period.
Along with house arrest comes a set of rules that must be followed. These include:
- A probation officer will be assigned to monitor compliance with the house arrest, and may make surprise checks at any time to ensure compliance;
- The probation officer may check the home in order to determine that no illicit substances are present;
- An evening curfew must be strictly adhered to;
- The house arrestee must agree to submit to drug testing; and
- Typically, the arrestee is ordered to participate in community service as part of the terms of their sentence.
House arrest is typically given to non-violent offenders, and to those who are not repeat offenders. Additionally, there are other types of crimes that may make an offender unsuitable for house arrest. For example, if they were convicted of a crime that involved the use of their home, they might not be eligible for house arrest.
House arrest may also be used in cases where the offender is terminally ill, and are thus placed under house arrest as opposed to being subjected to incarceration in their final stage of life.
If you are found to have violated the terms of your house arrest, the probation officer in charge of your case has the authority to choose either to give you a warning, or to order you to appear in court for a probation violation hearing. If the officer requests a hearing, they may also request that you be given additional sentencing, which may include incarceration instead of house arrest, based on the argument that you cannot comply with house arrest.
The penalty for a violation of the terms of house arrest vary in each case. The penalty will depend upon the facts specific to your case, and the reason for violating the terms. For example, violating the terms due to a medical emergency is likely to be looked upon more favorably than violating the terms to go to a bar past curfew.
Yes, as discussed above, “house arrest” usually does not mean that the offender is confined to their house 24/7. They will be allowed to leave for work, school, medical appointments, counseling, church, community service and court dates. Other types of appointments and errands may be pre-approved with the probation officer. The terms specific to our case will be outlined in a Home Detention Agreement, which is a contract between you and your probation officer. With the terms in writing, everyone can be clear on what they are and when they have been violated.
Yes. Usually you will be able to leave your home for specific purposes which will be outlined in your Home Detention Agreement. This Agreement is a contract formed between you and your probation officer outlining the stipulations of your house arrest.
Those who are subject to house arrest are electronically monitored. This is usually achieved through an ankle monitor with a sensor which determines your location. Then sensor transmits a signal to a base monitor, which is connected to the local police station. Whenever the offender travels beyond the area in which they are supposed to stay at a given time, a signal is sent to the police.
It also records the time, and how long you stay outside the approved area. If you are found to have violated the terms of agreement, you may be arrested. The equipment may also send a signal if it is tampered with.
House arrest as a sentencing option is meant to achieve a social good, in that it prevents offenders from committing another crime and being sentenced again. This is due to the relatively normal life they are able to maintain, including personal relationships and work. It is also more cost-effective than incarcerating an offender.
The penalties for violating house arrest may be quite harsh and have lasting consequences on a person. An experienced criminal defense attorney near you will know how best to present your case to the court at your hearing, ensuring the best outcome for you.