Updated by Janet Portman, Attorney
What is House Arrest?
House arrest involves being confined to your primary residence rather than going to prison or juvenile detention. Seen as a more affordable alternative to traditional imprisonment, especially for less dangerous offenders, house arrest allows offenders to earn income, maintain family and other relationships, and attend necessary probation appointments and rehabilitation treatment. Home confinement can also involve curfews, where offenders must be home by a certain hour, and when they are not permitted to go out in the dark.
House arrest is not considered to be a way to “let an offender off easy.” House arrest is intended to be confining, and is a legitimate form of punishment. It is designed to keep the non-violent offender from committing the crime again.
How House Arrest Works
In many house arrest cases, the offender wears an ankle bracelet to monitor the the person's movements. This electronic monitoring device is often maintained and monitored by a third-party provide, who can detect whether the offender has unlawfully tried to leave the property or remove the device itself. In some instances, the offender is responsible for the expenses associated with the electronic monitoring device. Having a defendant on home imprisonment pay for the cost of monitoring is particularly attractive to cash-strapped states and court systems.
House arrest does not necessarily confine the offenders to their homes for 24 hours every day, 7 days a week. In some cases, offenders may be permitted to go to work and school, attend religious services, and go to medical appointments. Home confinement can be more restraining, of course, depending on the specifics of the confinement and the infraction.
How to Request House Arrest
You can request house arrest, and are likely to get it, if you meet criteria commonly used by judges when evaluating a house arrest request. These include but are not limited to:
- You do not have a long history of offenses. If this is your first offense, you are more likely to be considered for house arrest.
- You are not a violent offender. The crime you have committed is not likely to cause imminent harm to others.
- You are a juvenile offender under the supervision of your parents.
- You have a good, steady history of employment.
- Jail time seems too harsh for the crime you have committed, yet parole is too lenient.
If you meet these and other related criteria, ask your lawyer or public defender to request this form of punishment during your court hearing. Your lawyer may be able to help you make a convincing argument to the judge about why house arrest is the most appropriate punishment for you.