If you or a loved one qualify for house arrest instead of a prison sentence, it can be confusing to understand what the rules are. Surely, you’ve got a lot of questions and need help answering them. You’re already doing the right thing by researching about house arrest and what it entails.
Lack of research can result in some unfortunate penalties, so knowing house arrest rules is crucial.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
What Is House Arrest?
The U.S. criminal justice system uses house arrest (also called home detention or home confinement) to reduce repeat offenses. It’s also used to combat prison and jail overcrowding. There are two main types of house arrest that you should know about.
The first is pretrial home confinement, which is when a defendant is sentenced to house arrest by the court. This way, they await trial from their house and not jail.
The second is home confinement as a sentence. This is when a court sentences a defendant convicted of a crime to serve their time under electronic monitoring at home instead of jail or prison.
There are specific terms for each case, and the court decides those. The defendant must sign these terms and take extra precautions to abide by them. The terms may include refraining from illegal activity, staying sober, and refraining from contacting particular people.
Who Is Eligible for House Arrest?
If you believe that you or a loved one are eligible to be a candidate for pretrial home arrest, you might want to talk to an attorney. They will be able to analyze your particular case and inform you of what to expect.
You can request house arrest, and there’s a big chance you’ll get it, but you need to meet the criteria commonly used by judges to evaluate house arrest requests. These include:
- The crime committed was not a violent offense
- This is your first offense, or you don’t have a long history of offenses. If it’s your first, you are more likely to be considered for house arrest
- You’re a juvenile offender and under the supervision of parents or guardians
- The jail time is too harsh for the crime committed, but probation is too mild
- The defendant has a steady history of employment
Do you or your loved one meet most or all of these criteria? It’s good to talk to an attorney to help your house arrest request approval.
House Arrest Rules
You should know that house arrest isn’t only limited to staying at home. There are times when you have permission to leave for certain pre-approved activities or locations. Just be aware that your movement is still being monitored.
Unlike incarceration, however, house arrest allows a person the ability to continue participating in society. You’ll be able to work, go to medical appointments, meet with your lawyer and attend school. You’ll likely have a curfew, so you can’t stay out late.
Let’s take a look at the rules and restrictions that must be followed if you’re on house arrest. There may be variants depending on the state, but the following are standard:
- You’ll receive a probation officer who will monitor compliance and meet with you to ensure you’re meeting all the sentence requirements. There may also be random check-ins.
- You must adhere to the curfew and be back home on time.
- You’ll need to submit to surprise drug testing.
- There are cases where you must participate in community service as part of your sentence.
Although there may be additional rules in your particular state, this is a guide guideline for what to expect. The rules may not seem complicated, but breaking them can lead to consequences that you won’t want to deal with.
House Arrest Penalties
So, what happens when you violate the terms of house arrest? Your probation officer will determine whether they want to let you off with a warning or order you to attend court for a hearing. The penalty for a home confinement violation could result in a probation officer recommending that you spend the remainder of your sentence in jail or prison.
These penalties usually occur for more severe rule-breaking. If the violation is minor, the court might adjust the curfew or change the acceptable reasons to leave your home. At the end of the day, the penalties for violating home confinement depends on the violation.
For example, you might be off easy if a family or personal emergency caused you to violate the rules. Do your best to follow the rules, and you’ll avoid the trouble of penalties.
How Long Can House Arrest Last?
If your type of house arrest is pretrial confinement, this will only last until the end of the trial. After the trial, a house arrest sentence can last anywhere from two weeks to an entire year. That decision is based on the crime you or a loved one committed and were convicted of at trial.
There may be times when house arrest is used at the end of a sentence. The offender might be let out of jail or prison before the sentence has ended, and they can serve the remainder under electric monitoring or house arrest.
Be Sure to Stay Informed
Nobody wants to deal with the criminal justice system but knowing what you’re up against is the first step to minimizing stress. If you or a loved one are convicted of a crime, you may have the option of requesting house arrest. Many people believe this is ‘being let off easy,’ but it is still a punishment meant to prevent further crime.
Knowing the house arrest rules, conditions, and penalties will ensure that you avoid any further consequences and get closer to freedom.
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