by Janet Portman, Attorney
House arrest involves being sentenced to time at home, under close surveillance, rather than serving a typical jail sentence. Home imprisonment is an option for non-violent offenders, and is used most often in areas where prisons are already overcrowded, or when local authorities are seeking ways to mitigate the pressure on and expenses of the prison system. House arrest does not apply to violent offenders, who must serve jail sentences.
If you are under house arrest, you may still be able to go to work. In fact, maintaining employment is considered one of the strongest advantages of house arrest over other forms of punishment. Offenders who have regular, gainful employment may be permitted to go to work for particular hours every day as part of their court ordered house arrest.
The Rules for Working When Under House Arrest
The offender’s work will be closely monitored during the house arrest period. Working on a job while under house arrest will mean:
- You must submit a schedule to the court and/or the officer overseeing your case. In that schedule you will need to explain how long it takes to get to work, from work, and how many hours you are working on that job. In some instances, the number of hours an offender is permitted to work may be limited. Particular jobs, job sites, and/or shifts may also be limited, depending on the nature of your offense and the terms of your house arrest.
- You must wear an electronic monitoring device. Many offenders under house arrest are required to wear these devices, which are small enough to be hidden under clothing. The device will send signals about your whereabouts at all times, so if you venture off the pre-determined routes too and from work, or attempt to leave work during a typical workday, expect to have problems with your officer and the courts.
- You are likely to be required to cover the costs associated with house arrest, so maintaining your employment during house arrest is going to be important and necessary. In many cases, offenders are sentenced to house arrest, and are responsible for paying the fees associated with the electronic monitoring devices. In addition, they must pay regular court fees, filing fees, etc. So if you are under house arrest, do your best to follow the terms of your arrest closely and be diligent to maintain that employment.
If you are under house arrest and have questions or concerns about your rights and responsibilities, it is a good idea to check with a qualified attorney. Your lawyer can assist you in making sure you comply with all requirements so you do not incur additional penalties or criminal sanctions.