House arrest or home confinement is an order by the court that restricts your freedom and mobility, typically as a condition of being released on bond or as an alternative sentence. This might mean that you are prohibited from leaving your home or some other prescribed area. The terms and conditions of your house arrest will be set forth by the judge or probation officer, who has wide discretion in setting your restrictions.

Depending on the county where your case is held, house arrest may consist of a curfew, staying in a particular geographical area, and/or other restrictions such as random drug testing or devices that measure your alcohol level.

Advantages of House Arrest & Eligibility

Individuals currently serving time in jail may be eligible for house arrest.

House arrest allows you to serve out your jail sentence from the comfort of your home while simultaneously saving the state money by not housing you in jail. In addition, house arrest may allow you to continue work, family obligations, school and/or seek medical treatment or counseling.

If you’ve already been sentenced and are currently serving jail time, you may be able eligible for release into a house arrest program. Typically, a score determined by your county’s correctional facilitator or probation department determines your eligibility. Your score will be based on the following factors:

  • Type of offense you were convicted of
  • Your prior record
  • Community ties
  • Whether or not you’re employed
  • History of substance abuse
  • History of violence

Certain crimes, especially violent crimes and most sex offenses, are excluded from eligibility.

Monitoring & Consequences for Non-Compliance

The court and probation department will monitor your compliance by requiring you to wear an electronic ankle bracelet or GPS monitoring device that notifies police when you leave the premises.

If you fail to abide by any condition of the program, you will be taken into custody to serve the remainder of your sentence in jail. These conditions include:

  • Not staying in the permitted location under the agreement
  • Failure to pay your fees with the service provider
  • If you no longer meet program criteria based on the above factors

Reducing Your Chances of Jail Time

The judge usually will not consider recommending someone for a house confinement program on their own accord. You will need a skilled and experienced attorney to convince the judge that such a sentencing alternative is appropriate in your case.

California law explicitly holds that the recommendation or referral from the court or judge must be given great weight in the determination of acceptance or denial. Even though the Probation Department has the ultimate discretion whether to grant you house arrest, you are automatically disqualified if the judge denies your request for house arrest during sentencing. Thus, it’s very important that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the proper legal arguments to make during your sentencing to obtain a favorable recommendation from the judge.

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