Getting charged with a crime for many reasons—the principle of which is being ripped away from your home and sent to prison ahead of your trial. Even then, you may face future jail time after your trial if it does not go as planned. The “solution?” House arrest. If you are looking for a way to keep your life somewhat normal (or at least get it back on track), read on to learn more about:
- The Facts of House Arrest: What it is, Involves, and Who is Eligible;
- Making the Decision Between House Arrest and Prison; and
- How a Lawyer Makes the Difference in a House Arrest Case.
What is House Arrest?
House arrest is just what the name suggests: confinement to your home leading up to trial or an alternative to a jail sentence.
Though relatively recent in popular application, house arrest has been around for years and has roots in other country’s legal systems—typically in cases involving high-profile political figures. The hallmark electronic ankle bracelet came to be in 1983 and, from there, became a tool used for all sorts of criminal outcomes.
House arrest conditions vary from case-to-case and may involve a few different scenarios. However, it is important to note that house arrest is still very much a form of imprisonment. Rather than serve out a sentence behind bars, you serve it in-home and follow strict rules that govern what you can and cannot do:
- Leaving your home becomes the topic of question with house arrest scenarios. The court will set parameters regarding when you can leave the house.
- You may be able to find a job, pursue an education, or go about semi-normal errands and tasks while on house arrest. The emphasis on most post-trial house arrest cases are reducing recidivism, and a big part of that involves reintegrating with and contributing to society. These may be a component of your probation agreement, and regular meetings with your probation officer may become a part of your house arrest conditions.
- Curfews may be set in place to keep you inside past dark. These are relatively common in most house arrest scenarios (and probation agreements too).
A house arrest with the above exceptions is known as home confinement, as opposed to the much more strict home incarceration, which involves staying at home 24/7 unless otherwise directed.
In Maryland, individual counties have their own house arrest criteria if a person is sentenced to a county prison. For example, a convicted person is eligible in Anne Arundel if they live within a 50-mile radius of the county. Additional conditions and violations are processed through Anne Arundel County’s Department of Detention Facilities (AACDDF). In general, you will want to look to county guidelines when researching house arrest; chances are, they have the most pertinent and up-to-date information that does not require you to sift through any legal statutes or text.
There are criteria for who is and is not eligible for house arrest, however. See the below table for more information:
Who May Be Eligible
Who Is Not Eligible
A person with no prior record has a better chance at getting house arrest.Someone with a prior record or long criminal history does not.
Your crime was non-violent.
Your crime was violent, meaning it involved some type of murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, battery, or domestic violence.You were in good standing in your community and workplace prior any charges.You do not have a steady employment record to show.Any Juvenile Offenders.Those charged with child abuse.Your crime exists on the cusp of imprisonment being too harsh a punishment.Imprisonment is often the crime that fits your conviction.
How Worthwhile is House Arrest?
Again, determining whether House Arrest is ‘worth it’ depends on your situation.
In certain cases, where lengthy prison sentences are a potential outcome to your case, a house arrest may be the most favorable option—even if it’s as restrictive as home incarceration. If your house arrest is a pretrial condition, then you may definitely prefer it to spending that time in prison.
As mentioned, you may even have the chance to start working again on the outside and contribute towards your probation or parole conditions rather than have to wait in prison. But, on the other hand, the courts may only allow you to leave home to participate in rehabilitative programs prescribed in your charge. Thus, the scope of your ‘freedom’ under a house arrest may be quite limited, but prison is far more.
Not unlike probation, there are some who end up finding the lack of structure and foreboding rules unfavorable when compared to prison. However, you may also experience having been charged with a minor crime and receiving a house arrest sentence with the promise of an earlier parole but find yourself serving out a full sentence within the boundaries of your home.
For the average person with no prior criminal record, a house arrest can be a jarring shift in lifestyle—far more so than prison, but still jarring in its own right. In addition, obeying the strictures of an electronic monitoring device and any other restrictions for a nonviolent crime that didn’t otherwise have much of an impact on a person may cause confusion and frustration.
Always Having Legal Help: Pre-and-Post House Arrest
With an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side, you will always have someone in your corner. A first-time offender who allegedly committed a harmless crime? Your attorney will make sure you get the best outcome for your future. Don’t want to put your future on hold by spending a few years in jail? We get it. House arrest may be your next most viable option to keep your life moving.
This applies to before-and-after your trial, too. It is easier to prepare for your trial when you are outside of prison and in your own home. Your attorney will help secure your pre-trial release and placement back in your own home.
After your trial and sentencing, it is important to keep your attorney close by in case of any future issues. Accused of violating your house arrest? Law enforcement will take it very seriously, resulting in your probation officer recommending you serve the remainder of your sentence in prison. Do not chance this happening and get stuck with a raw deal. Your attorney can help prevent this and take the extra step to review any overly restrictive house arrest conditions.
If you are facing charges and want to look into alternatives to prison, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys will carefully consider every angle of your case and craft a defense that will ensure the fairest and best possible outcomes for your future.