What is House arrest? How does House arrest work?

Whether you or your loved one have committed a crime, violated the law, or are charged with criminal penalties, it can be a distraught and stressful situation. You might be thinking about who would take care of your family behind you.

If that’s what you’re thinking, then you should read this.

Not all defendants are required by the law to spend their conviction time in jail. There are alternatives to prison convictions such as probation, fines, suspended sentence, and house arrest.

Some are granted partial house arrest and some are given complete home detention to await the trial at homes. These detentions are monitored and restricted. So what is house arrest?

In the article today, we will specifically talk about the alternative to jail –a house arrest and would see how it works.

What is house arrest?

In the United States criminal judicial system, home confinement, detention, or house arrest is an essential tool that helps in reducing repeated crimes. It is also useful when it comes to minimizing jail and prison overcrowding. Particularly, there are two different types of house arrests;

  • Home confinement as a sentence
  • Partial home confinement

In-home confinement, a defendant is contained in his house under the monitoring of an electronic device rather than under surveillance of a state or county facility. While in partial home confinement a defendant can wait for the trial while detained in his house.

In both cases, the defendant needs to sign an agreement with the court, which specifies certain terms of house arrest. These terms directly depend on the criminal activity a defendant has been convicted for. But the terms may include not involving in any illegal activity, refraining from relocations and contacting certain people, staying sober and clean.

There may be other clauses that the court may include in your home arrest agreement. Failure to adhere to these clauses may result in the revocation of the agreement that may send the defendant back to jail and serve the rest of jail time behind the bars. 

How does house arrest work?

When a defendant is convicted of a crime and given house arrest, he would be released with a monitored electronic device. This device can be implanted or fitted on the anklet of the arrestee which is not easy to remove. This device uses GPS to monitor the movements and the location of the defendant.

Someone on house arrest convictions is significantly not necessary to limit their movements. However, they can actually move to their permitted places and to certain pre-approved localities. Unlike incarceration, house arrest permits a defendant to participate in community and home activities.

A simple example of these activities involves attending school meetings, visitations to appointed lawyers and appearing in courts, going for medical appointments, and sometimes defendants are allowed to go for work as well. But all this is bound around a specific time limit. The defendant must come back home before the specified time.

The following set of restrictions is added in the home arrest agreement that must be followed by an arrestee. Although they can be modified and added some other restrictions depending on your case, some of the standard restrictions include:

  • The defendant will have a court-assigned probation officer. The officer would meet the defendant periodically and ensure that the defendant is complying with all the requirements of a house arrest agreement. He is allowed to make surprise and random visitations to monitor the arrestee at any time of the day.
  • The arrestee would be required to refrain from both alcohol and drug use. The assigned officer will also make sure that the forbidden and illegal drugs are not present at the defendant’s home.
  • The arrestee would comply with the officer if he was asked to provide urinalysis results
  • The arrestee should follow the evening curfew limits
  • Similar to probation, the arrestee would be obligated to take part in community service during the house arrest.

Who may qualify for a house arrest?

To be qualified for a house arrest, accusers must meet certain requirements. The House arrest option is particularly allowed to non-violent offenders and misdemeanor convicts

House arrests are also commonly used for first-time offenders more rather than repeat offenders. Also, if the defendant is asking for a home arrest, he or she must have a place near to the jurisdiction from where they have been convicted.

The court will look at the offender’s employment opportunities as well when deciding a house arrest whether the offender supports the community and family in an appropriate manner.

In many cases, the court will require a landline telephone in their homes so the appointed officer could monitor using different mediums. Also, the court may tap lines for the same purpose.

Convicts and offenders who use their homes to commit crimes and criminal activities may not be allowed for a house arrest. They would not qualify for the house arrest standard requirements the local court may have set.

Does it sound like a better option instead of prison? But before you know how to apply for a house arrest, you should know some important factors about house arrest as well.

Things you should know about house arrest

When a person is under house arrest, he may be confined at home and would be wearing a device. Therefore, the word arrest may not be a suitable word for it. In some states, it is called house sentencing. Here are some important things that you should consider while applying for it.

1. It’s not a full-time detainment

Contrary to people’s belief, a house arrest is not a prison in a home. Depending on the severity of your crime and criminal history, the court may allow you to have ‘breaks’ from the house sentencing. But in these breaks, you can visit the pre-permitted places like the ones mentioned above. However, the defendant has to wear the monitoring electronic device throughout the visitation and follow the designated limit.

2. You may have to pay

it is not only convenient for a defendant but for the court system as well to put you on house arrest rather than in prison. A person in prison can cost $20,000 on an average per year. On the other hand, home confinement can be as cheap as $6,000 per year. Plus, you would be paying some of these costs. The cost is a fee for a monitoring device and service that you will be required to pay on a weekly and monthly basis.

3. No good time credit

A disadvantage of a house arrest is you cannot take the advantage of behaving well in society. When you observe jail in prison, a good credit time works as an incentive that reduces your jail time as a reward for good behavior.

No matter how well you behave, you have to spend complete incarceration time in home arrest.

4. You should not break the law

As the court and officer know your movements and activities, in case of any agreement or law violation you would be sent back to jail immediately. It’s more like parole. You have to follow instructions assigned by the court so you can serve the house arrest at your home peacefully.

5. Not limited to conviction 

House arrests are not limited to the sentenced convicts. A house arrest can be ordered after a bail as well. Bernie Madoff was house arrested after paying a $10 million bail amount waiting for the trial. He was convicted for defrauding investors for millions of dollars.

Rules for home arrests can vary from state to state depending on the severity of the crime. If you are charged with a crime and want to apply for a house arrest, then a professional attorney can help.

How to request a house arrest?

For applying for a house arrest, you must meet the criteria mentioned by your state court. With the help of an attorney you can request a house arrest if:

  • You have not committed a violent crime. The crime that you have committed must not cause harm to society.
  • You should not have a long criminal history. Your chances of having house arrest can be levitated if it is your first offense.
  • If you are a juvenile offender and live under the parental supervision
  • You have a clean and good history of employment
  • Jail time against your crime would be harsh for you so probation or house arrest would be a better option.

If you think you meet the specified requirements mentioned in your state probation or house arrest laws, then you should work with your attorney and request a house arrest. A criminal lawyer will work for you and convince the judge to grant a house arrest which would be an appropriate punishment for you.

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