House arrest is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s a form of alternative sentencing that’s designed to offer benefits both to the government and the person who is convicted of a charge. For the convicted person, house arrest may provide a more comfortable and efficient way to serve time. For the county or other government, this alternative typically results in savings over more costly jail time.
However, there are numerous limitations you must live under when you’re on house arrest. Failing to meet those requirements can have serious consequences. Learn more about house arrest and the limitations that come with it below.
When Is House Arrest an Option in Long Beach?
House arrest is not an option for every person facing criminal charges. It is usually reserved for cases where the standard sentence would be carried out in the county jail (as opposed to the state prison) and the person is a nonviolent offender that hasn’t committed serious or multiple crimes.
Even in cases where house arrest may be an option, judges are not likely to offer it of their own accord. Typically, the defendant must request this privilege and make a case for why house arrest is appropriate. That involves convincing the court and the prosecutor in the case that house arrest would not lead to any issues of public safety. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side at this point can help you make that case.
What Are the Travel Restrictions of House Arrest?
The point of house arrest is to confine someone to their home as punishment for their crimes. When you’re on house arrest, you are serving a sentence for your crimes, and you must follow whatever restrictions the judge ordered in your case.
Where you can travel and when depends very much on those details. In some cases, the judge may order a complete house arrest, which means you can’t leave at all except in an emergency, such as a house fire or you need to be transported to the hospital.
In other cases, judges may allow limited travel for purposes like going to work, religious services, medical appointments, or court-ordered mental health treatment. The times you can be away from your house are specific, which means you must be careful to come straight home after these outings. You can also not go anywhere else in lieu of these locations, as electronic monitoring devices keep track of your travel and report it to the authorities.
If you need to leave your home or deviate from the agreed-upon travel limitations for any reason, you have to get permission from the court or an officer in charge of your house arrest. For example, if your boss wants you to work mandatory overtime, you need permission to be at work longer. If someone in your family passes away and you want to travel for the funeral, you need permission.
Other Limitations of House Arrest
House arrest has some other drawbacks and limitations. You typically cover some of the costs associated with house arrest, so it may be expensive.
Judges may limit your ability to receive visitors under house arrest. In some cases, you may not have any visitors at all. In others, you may not be able to have specific visitors, especially those that are associated in some way with actions that lead to the crime in question.
House arrest also doesn’t accrue any type of time credit. If you’re on house arrest restrictions as a part of your bail, for example, it won’t be considered as time served against any potential sentence. Getting a lawyer to help with bail can be important if you’re facing this type of scenario so you understand all your options.
In the same vein, when you’re serving house arrest time, you don’t get any sort of credit for good behavior that could lessen your sentence. You’ll have to serve the entire time.
If you violate any of the restrictions associated with house arrest, including having the wrong visitors or being out of your home at the wrong time, you can be immediately arrested by your parole officer. You’ll then go before a judge, who has several options. They might:
- Dismiss the issue, especially if you have a compelling and legitimate reason for breaking the rules
- Impose even more restrictions on your house arrest, such as revoking your right to leave for certain errands or work
- Require that you serve out the remainder of your sentence in jail
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side at this point can help you keep your house arrest privileges. This is especially true if there are extenuating circumstances involved; your attorney can help create an argument for why you had little choice in breaking the rules during your house arrest.
Plan Your Defense With Professional Help
A strong criminal defense is important whether you’re facing an initial charge or looking at sentencing following a conviction. A criminal defense lawyer can help you plan a defense to increase the chance of a positive outcome in your case.
If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Jerry Nicholson today to find out how we can help.