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Electronic Monitoring as Jail Alternative in California Criminal Cases

Posted by Alan Eisner | Mar 09, 2020

Electronic Monitoring as Jail Alternative in California Criminal Cases
Los Angeles criminal courts have a variety of alternative sentencing options for some defendants in lieu of incarceration, while maintaining public safety.

Criminal courts and jail officials in California, especially in Los Angeles County, typically seek methods to provide some relief to jail overcrowding while controlling criminal activity.

Los Angeles County criminal courts provide a variety of alternative sentencing options for certain defendants in lieu of incarceration, while maintaining public safety.

One of the more popular programs used by judges in most California Superior Courts is electronic monitoring home confinement.

Our law firm has helped many of our clients in Los Angeles County get electronic or home monitoring as an alternative to serving time in jail.  

Due to our decades of experience in criminal law, we understand the process of how to convince a judge to grant home confinement rather than sitting in jail.

There are many different types of electronic monitoring programs in California. It's important to note that not every defendant will be eligible for house arrest as an alternative to jail time. There are specific rules that will determine eligibility for home confinement.

Our California criminal defense lawyers explain the various programs, eligibility requirements, and the terms and conditions below.

Description of Electronic Monitoring and Home Confinement

Home confinement in California criminal cases is imposed by a judge with conditions that will require you to stay inside your home for certain portions of the day. It is most often controlled using an electronic monitoring device and can be imposed in lieu of jail time.

This form of supervised electronic confinement is designed to restrict your freedom to a certain location.

Electronic monitoring is considered a part of a “house arrest” and involves using a bracelet, typically worn on your ankle, to verify your location at specific times. Also, there are many electronic monitored programs used as a condition of probation or parole.

Electronic monitoring is basically using Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring that uses satellite technology in order to track your movements within the neighborhood.  Obviously, it's used to confirm your compliance with the terms of your probation.

Electronic Monitoring was designed to help with the prison overcrowding crises that led to the passage of the California Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011.

Electronic monitoring in California is a valuable tool to supervise defendant's in a community and has actually become a well-established jail alternative with judges for specific non-violent and low-risk offenders.

It also serves as an important tool to supervise certain types of high-risk offenders on parole released from a California state prison living in a community.

Different Types of Electronic Monitoring Tools in California

In California criminal courts, including Los Angeles County, there are a wide range of different types of electronic monitoring systems.  All forms of electronic monitoring are used as a jail alternative sentencing option.  These include:

Home detention monitoring

Home detention monitoring is using an ankle transmitter bracelet and a home monitoring unit. The unit is installed and connected to a home phone line or cellular signal.  You are required to pay for the services of using this program, but won't typically become ineligible for the program if you have no ability to pay.

The ankle transmitter bracelet will send a 24-hour signal to the monitoring agency which gives them real-time communication of any irregular use, or tampering with the instrument, or a violation of your curfew, or location restrictions.

SCRAM device

The SCRAM device (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) is another form of electronic monitoring that is often used as a penalty for driving under the influence cases in California.

It's also an ankle bracelet, but it monitors alcohol concentration through your skin rather than keeping track of your specific location. If you drink alcohol, the device will alert the monitoring agency who will them alert the court of the violation.  A SCRAM devise is not designed to prohibit where your travel.

In cases when a judge wants to track your location AND alcohol consumption, then they can use a tool commonly known as “home detention plus SCRAM.” This alcohol bracelet is used along with a home base station that monitor restrictions on your curfew and your blood alcohol level.

Drug Patches

If you have been convicted of a drug crime in California, courts can order drug patches that are tested PCP, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. The drug patches are replaced on a weekly basis and tested.

Eligibility for Home Confinement in California

If convicted of a crime in Los Angeles County, you might be eligible for house arrest as an alternative to jail time. However, you will have to typically meet certain conditions to be consider eligible for the program, including:

  • You were sentenced to county jail time
  • You live nearby where you were sentenced
  • You have a phone at the nearby residence
  • You are a non-violent and low-risk offender
  • You agree to the rules of house arrest
  • You pay for the program based on ability to pay

If you were convicted for a serious felony offense, such violent crimes or sex crimes will not normally be eligible to participate in the house arrest program. Additionally, if you have served time in a California state prison, you will not normally be allowed in the program.

Terms for Home Confinement in California

You could be required to stay confined at your home, but it may be possible for the court to order terms that are less restrictive. When the judge grants house arrest, it means as long as you follow the terms and conditions, you will avoid serving time in jail.

Typically terms and conditions for home confinement ordered by the court in Los Angeles County include the following:

  • Random drug testing
  • Meetings with a probation or parole officer
  • Curfew restrictions

Depending on specific circumstances of your case, the judge could permit you to do the following:

  • Go to work or attend school
  • Go to medical appointments
  • Deal with family issues
  • Participate in counseling, or alcohol or drug classes
  • Participate in any activities approved by the court

It's important to note that home confinement is not always offered by the court. It's an alternative to jail that has to be requested by your criminal defense lawyer who knows this type of program is available for your case and understand effective arguments to persuade the court to allow it.

Violations of Electronic Monitoring in California

The tools used to enforce house arrest will send a signal to the electronic monitoring agency.  If you leave you home and go beyond the approved distance, their equipment will recognize the violation and automatically record a signal interruption.

The monitoring agency will notify your probation or parole officer, meaning you could be arrested for violating the terms and conditions of the program. The Los Angeles County judge could revoke your home arrest and then sentence you to serve the rest of your sentence.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were accused of a crime in Los Angeles, you might qualify for home confinement. Call our criminal defense lawyers, who have over 60 years of combined experience, of getting our clients alternative sentencing options to avoid going to jail. 

We will aggressively work with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office and the court to help you to achieve the possible result in your case. We serve clients throughout Southern California, including the greater LA area and the San Fernando Valley.

We first need to review the details of your case in order to determine the best strategy moving forward to keep you out of jail. Eisner Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705 Los Angeles, CA 90067. Contact us at (310) 328-3776.

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About the Author

Alan Eisner

Alan Eisner  Van Nuys, California (818) 781-1570 (818) 788-5033 Email Me  Alan Eisner has practiced criminal law for over 28 years in Los Angeles County . Mr Eisner is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. (The California State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization has designated Mr. Eisner as a...

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