What Is House Arrest?

By Victoria Bailey - Updated April 27, 2018
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After being convicted of a crime, you can be sentenced to jail or prison time, or probation. There is a third option midway between the two, called house arrest. If you're sentenced to house arrest, you serve your sentence at home instead of in jail, and you may be allowed to leave your home to go to work, to keep doctor's appointments, or to fulfill court-appointed activities such as community service. In some cases, people have been required to be under house arrest while out on bail, and it can be revoked if even one rule is broken. While not an ideal sentence for all criminals, house arrest can save the court system tens of thousands of dollars each year for every person it keeps out of prison.

Tip

House arrest is an alternative to jail time or probation. During house arrest, you're confined to your home except during specified activities such as work or community service.

What Is House Arrest for a Juvenile?

When a juvenile is placed under house arrest, she is required to stay in her home at all times except for designated conditions. Generally, juveniles are allowed to go to school, work, probation appointments or vocational programs, but must return home afterward. Friends are not allowed to come over, nor is the person under house arrest allowed to leave for any social occasion. A probation officer will check frequently that the rules of house arrest are being followed to the letter. If the juvenile wants or needs to leave the house for any reason other than those already given, she must get prior permission from her probation officer. In some states, juveniles are also required to wear electronic monitoring devices as well as report to probation officers.

What Is House Arrest Monitoring?

House arrest electronic monitoring is a way for the court to track offenders in real time, allowing probation officers to know where their charges are at all times. Offenders are fitted with a non-removable monitor strapped to their wrist or ankle. This monitor uses either GPS or radio frequency (RF) technology to report offenders' locations. This method reduces or eliminates the need for probation officers to visit offenders' homes on a frequent basis.

What Happens if You Violate House Arrest?

When an offender violates house arrest, his probation officer will arrest him. The officer can either give him a warning or send him to a probation violation hearing. During this court procedure, a judge will determine what consequences the offender will suffer because of his house arrest violation. There are no set rules about this procedure; it will depend on the offender's offense, prior record under house arrest and the reason the violation happened. Consequences can vary from additional house arrest time to spending the rest of the sentence in prison.

About the Author

Victoria Bailey has a degree in Public Law and Government. She has spoken before state Supreme Court justices and her photograph is on the back cover of Bill Clinton's autobiography. As a former member of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Bailey worked closely with lawmakers to help set public policy. Bailey's work appears on numerous websites, and she's currently writing the text for a governmental information app.

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