House arrest is, in certain instances, an alternative to jail. Of course, this is a preferable circumstance for the accused in most cases.
But what types of crimes could get you house arrest instead of jail? And why would a court allow someone to stay at home?
In some situations, minor crimes will have the punishment of house arrest instead of jail. Having a competent criminal attorney on your side can help your chances of avoiding jail time.
Read on to learn more about home detention, the rules surrounding it, and what it involves.
What is house arrest?
In the US, not all criminal sentences involve prison or jail time. First-time and non-violent offenses, for instance, may be subject to community service or house arrest.
One typically serves house arrest or home detention for a set amount of time equivalent to what would otherwise be jail time. It may take place in the offender’s home or another approved location.
Typically in this situation, a person will wear an ankle monitor which tracks their location, and they are only allowed out of the house for necessary reasons, such as work or school, which a probation officer must approve. They also will be required to follow strict curfews.
What types of crimes can land you on house arrest versus jail?
What is house arrest, and what kinds of convictions would lead to this versus jail?
The short answer is… well, there is no short answer. House arrest is not so much about the crime as the situation, although the crime must be considered a lesser, non-violent crime. A criminal prosecutor must request the court consider house arrest.
Courts consider home detention for misdemeanors and certain felonies, but violent crimes such as rape or the use of a deadly weapon will not typically qualify.
Other factors that the court will consider include:
- Prior offenses
- Employment situation and history
- The severity and type of crime that took place
- Whether the offense is non-violent
- The level of threat you pose to society
- Whether it is a first-time offense
- Which level of court is involved
- Which state the sentencing takes place in
People with specific health problems which require regular medical care or appointments may also be relieved of jail time.
However, even if the crime is only a minor infraction, there is never a guarantee that a person will get home detention instead of jail.
What activities are you allowed to do under house arrest?
One reason why it may be deemed appropriate for an individual to be at home is so that they can continue with normal activities which help with rehabilitation — examples include:
- Business activities
- Job interviews
- Medical appointments
- Psychotherapy or counseling appointments
- Community service
- Drug testing
- Alcohol/drug rehabilitation classes
- Meetings with probation officers
- Religious events
All kinds of outings must be pre-approved by the probation officer, and often there are strict schedules in place, where even a minor violation could send you to jail.
Though house arrest might seem like a dream come true compared to jail time, it comes with its challenges. Those on house arrest typically wear a tracking monitor (ankle monitor) and are required to stick to a strict schedule regarding outside activities.
A minor violation of a house arrest agreement may lead to a warning, but sometimes even a seemingly minor infraction could lead to penalties, including jail time. In addition, the state may monitor the arrestee using a GPS tracking device to ensure they are not breaching their boundaries. If abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a part of the home detention agreement, the wearing of drug patches that can detect illicit substances may apply.
People on home detention who wear ankle or bracelet tracking monitors must be aware that tampering with the monitor, violating curfew, and traveling outside a specified area is a crime. With house arrest, curfews are typically strict, and regular meetings with a parole officer are required.
Moreover, if they are employed, individuals on house arrest are also responsible for the cost of home monitoring.
Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
To sum up, if you find yourself accused of a non-violent crime, alternatives to jail exist, such as house arrest, community corrections programs, and probation. So if you believe you are facing jail time, having a good criminal attorney on your side will improve your chances of getting home detention instead.