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There's No Place Like Home: House Arrest in Lieu of Incarceration


House arrest with electronic monitoring is useful in the judicial system as both a sentencing alternative to incarceration as well as a potential pretrial bail condition for offenders that may not otherwise qualify to be released on bail. House Arrest is considered a form of intermediate punishment run by the county as a viable alternative to incarceration for crimes such as Drunk Driving.

House arrest has pros for both the offender and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth benefits because the cost of the monitoring and supervision is placed on the offender. Those placed on house arrest must pay a sum of money calculated by the length of their time to be spent on house arrest. Many times these sums must be paid up front before the offender may be placed on house arrest. Prices vary, but somewhere in the realm of $10 a day per day of incarceration on house arrest plus fees is not an uncommon price in some counties. This reduces overcrowding in local prisons and saves the county money. On the offender’s side, they are spared the unpleasant experience of jail, and house arrest may allow opportunities not possible in jail.

An offender placed on house arrest is confined to their own domicile and any departures from the house must be preapproved by their supervising officer. Potential reasons that may be approved for leaving the residence include employment, medical treatment, court-ordered community service, and treatment or counseling. Offenders placed on house arrest will be subject to tests for abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. Some offenders may be placed on alcohol monitoring bracelets that can detect the presence of alcohol in their system.

Each county is required by law to employ at least one officer in charge of the house arrest program. This person may determine suitability for house arrest and make sure the offenders comply with the terms and conditions of house arrest. Defendants placed on house arrest must meet with their supervising officers at least two times face to face each month with three collateral contacts, though more contacts may be ordered by the court.

There are potential cons for pursuing a sentence on house arrest with electronic monitoring. For purposes of crediting time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that house arrest is not imprisonment or custody for purposes of qualifying for credit against a sentence of imprisonment. If an offender is placed on house arrest and then afterwards violates the conditions of their house arrest or of their subsequent probation or parole, they may find themselves in a situation where that time spent on house arrest is not credited towards their sentence.

House Arrest at pretrial or post-conviction is often a term of an agreement between attorneys for the defense and Commonwealth. There are several requirements and hoops to jump through to put yourself in the best position to qualify for and obtain House Arrest. An experienced attorney can help you with the process. Attorney Frank Walker has experience obtaining house arrest or release on bail for his clients and can do the work for you to get you out of jail. Call Walker Law today at (412) 212-3878 to find out more!