A Clear Explanation of House Arrest
A criminal case can end in a few different ways. While your hope is that it will conclude with the court finding you not guilty, if that doesn’t happen, then you may want to look into house arrest. This alternative sentencing option is not available for everyone, but if you qualify, it can be an advantageous way to carry out your sentence.
However, before you discuss this option with the prosecution, you need to work with an attorney who will assist you with presenting it to the court. Securing house arrest is not easy, so it helps to understand what it is, how it works and in which situations it might work.
House Arrest Definition
What is house arrest? The answer to this question is complex, but the basic definition is an alternative sentencing option where you are under monitoring but live in your own home.
Courts use house arrest as an alternative to putting you in prison or jail. The court must deem you eligible for this sentence. It is usually given only for nonviolent charges and is not typically an option for repeat offenders. Whether you are eligible highly depends on your particular charges and situation,
House arrest is a privilege. You have to show the court you are worthy of it. In addition, it is generally not the first choice of any court. Judges typically consider incarceration first unless you can give a compelling reason why house arrest is a better option.
The term “house arrest” is slightly misleading. While you will have to spend a lot of time in your home, you will not be on lockdown there. You will be able to leave to go to work or for other approved reasons.
When the court places you under house arrest, you get a home detention agreement, which outlines all the terms and conditions of your sentence:
- Your curfew
- The probation officer in charge of your case
- The right of your probation officer to conduct random check-ins
- The right of your probation officer to search your home without a warrant
- House arrest rules
- Visitor limits
- An agreement to not use drugs or alcohol, including submitting to random drug testing
- Your community service requirement
One more thing to know about house arrest is that the court may also issue it during the pre-trial phase. Instead of issuing your bail or keeping you locked up, the court releases you on house arrest until your trial.
Pros and Cons
House arrest is a privilege because you get to live in your own home and avoid having to stay behind bars. It allows you to remain an active part of your family and community and gives you the chance to continue working.
For the state, house arrest is beneficial because it can help with prison overcrowding issues. It also is more cost-effective than incarceration.
However, you will have a lot of rules when you are on house arrest. If you fail to follow any of them, you will face stiff penalties. You also have to take on some of the expenses of your sentence.
Finally, you must serve your full sentence. There are no options for credits against your time for good behavior like you could get if you were in prison.
House Arrest Expectations
If you receive house arrest, you need to ensure your expectations match with reality. To begin with, you will have to be in your home or at least on your property the majority of the time. Your probation officer may even restrict who can come to your home, including relatives.
You will have to get approval from your probation officer for every trip you want to take outside of your home. If there is a deviation of your normal schedule or an emergency, you will have to alert your probation officer.
You will wear an ankle monitor so that there is electronic surveillance of where you are. It will send a signal to the police if you leave the designated area without permission. It also records details of your movements, such as the time you leave the area, when you return and how long you were outside of the area. It can also report tampering attempts, so you should never try to remove your monitor.
House Arrest Violations
The rules of your sentence are incredibly important. If you break them, you face a violation charge. The court considers giving you house arrest as a way to show you trust, and breaking that trust is a serious issue. In many circumstances the court will revoke your house arrest rights and send you to prison or jail to finish out the remainder of your sentence.
However, what happens is very dependent on your particular situation. If you have a valid defense for breaking a rule, such as an emergency that caused you to leave your home without permission or having to work overtime so you were late getting home, then the court will consider that.
How an Attorney Can Help You
An attorney can help you during your criminal trial as well as your house arrest sentence. Your attorney is on your side and wants to see you succeed. You can rely on him or her to explain the details of your house arrest agreement so that you understand all the terms and don’t accidentally violate any of it.
Your attorney can also assist you with issues and ensure you maintain your civil rights throughout the process.
If you face violation issues, your lawyer can help you build a defense and plead your case to the judge. He or she can assist you if you worry about a potential violation.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges, then seek representation to assist you and learn more about house arrest. If you are already on house arrest, consider hiring someone to help explain and protect your legal rights. Submit a request online or call us today at 866-345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced attorney in your area!