Posted in Sentencing on July 12, 2017
You’ll likely have many questions after a conviction for a crime, particularly when it comes to your sentencing. The court decides a punishment based on the severity of a crime and several other factors. While some charges typically lead to incarceration, special circumstances may qualify an individual for house arrest, an alternative to imprisonment.
When a judge sentences an individual to house arrest, the individual must remain at home and wear an electronic monitoring device at all times, usually fixed around the person’s ankle. While under house arrest, he or she may not leave home except during specified times. For example, a conditions of house arrest may stipulate that he or she may leave during the day to go to work, but must return by a designated time. House arrest sentences typically come with various stipulations. Violating the terms of a house arrest sentence can have significant consequences.
House arrest is generally only an option for nonviolent offenders as a way to save taxpayer money. Incarceration is a substantial financial burden on states, and house arrest costs far less to effectively implement. While house arrest appears to be a mutually beneficial option that saves the state money while offering convicted individuals an alternative to prison, there are several things you should know about house arrest. While avoiding jail is certainly preferable, there are several drawbacks to house arrest.
When an individual goes to jail, he or she may qualify for an early release through good behavior. For example, he or she may only need to spend 60 days in jail for a 120-day sentence if no disciplinary issues have come up during those 60 days. This credit system varies from state to state, but house arrest does not have such a system. If you receive a 120-day house arrest sentence, expect to serve the full 120 days.
In some cases, an individual may have to endure house arrest as a condition of bail. Bail allows people who have been arrested to leave jail until their court dates by paying the court. If they show up, the court returns the money. If they do not appear for their court dates, they are held in contempt of court and lose the bail paid for release. The court will also file a warrant for the individual’s arrest. If you are sentenced to house arrest as a condition of bail, it is crucial that you do not violate the terms of your house arrest or you risk falling in contempt of court and further complicating your legal situation.
During house arrest, the individual must pay for the cost of maintaining the monitoring device and the monitoring service. This usually comes in the form of a weekly or monthly fee, depending on how long the sentence extends. In addition to the fee structure, every house arrest sentence stipulates curfews or allowed travel times, rules for visitors, and rules for maintaining contact with the court during the sentence term.
Breaking any condition of the terms of a house arrest sentence leads to immediate arrest and imprisonment. Most people sentenced to house arrest only receive one chance to do so in accordance with the rules. Violating the terms of house arrest will likely disqualify the individual from house arrest as an option in the future.
One of the best decisions anyone facing house arrest or a conviction can make is to contact a reliable and experienced criminal defense attorney, like our own Graham D. Donath. The right lawyer can help a defendant argue for house arrest instead of jail as a term of bail or in lieu of a prison sentence following a conviction. An attorney will help his or her client understand the terms of house arrest and follow the rules to avoid any further trouble with the court. If you have questions about the terms of house arrest in your area, speak with a defense attorney.