5 Things to Know About House Arrest in Pennsylvania
House arrest is an option that can be used instead of jail for some individuals in some counties throughout Pennsylvania.
Below are some basic things to know about this sentence.
1. House arrest can be granted instead of bail or as an alternative to serving a jail sentence
A lawyer can ask for pre-trial house arrest instead of waiting in jail for trial where being released on monetary bail is not an option that the judge will consider. This allows people to participate in parenting, work, religious services, medical appointments, and appointments with a lawyer.
House arrest may also be used as an alternative punishment to jail. If the judge finds a compelling reason that a defendant should be in the community, but the crime or prior record is too severe for probation and more supervision is needed, then the judge can order that the jail sentence is served on house arrest or electronic monitoring.
If the charge does include jail time, then the availability of house arrest depends on the county’s rules. Some counties are reluctant to allow house arrest, and some do so only if there is crowding in jails.
2. House arrest may require a landline phone
Many people have replaced landline phones with cellular devices. Even though only having a cell phone is common, it is only permissible for those on house arrest if the signal is strong in the home.
Recently, Philadelphia has obtained technology to allow people on house arrest to use their cell phones for house arrest by monitoring cell tower pings and measuring your distance from their own cell phone.
Being on house arrest requires a landline phone when the cell phone signal is not strong enough to maintain contact from the cell phone to the tower at all times.
Each county is allowed to obtain and maintain their own house arrest system, so it is important to speak to a lawyer who can guide you through the policies of that county pre-trial services division.
When a landline is required, there are many regulations for the phone line, such as the requirement that it be plugged into a wall (i.e. no cordless phones) and that the phone does not have caller ID, conference calling, or other common upgrades.
3. While on house arrest, the home is considered jail
This sounds obvious, but many people do not understand how restrictive house arrest can be. While on house arrest, there can be no alcohol, narcotics, or firearms in the home.
Since the home is considered a jail, it can be searched at any time to ensure that there are no prohibited items therein.
Also, activities in the home are closely monitored by supervising officers. While on house arrest, the defendant cannot have any parties at the home, nor can he or she allow someone to move into the home without the supervising officer’s approval.
4. An electronic monitoring device is required most of the time
Most individuals on house arrest have to wear an electronic monitoring device. This device is typically worn around the ankle. It collects GPS information that allows the supervising officer to know whether the defendant has left the home and where they went.
While on house arrest, some travel may be allowed for work, probation activities (such as visiting addiction support groups, community service, or appointments with probation/parole officers), and necessary appointments or errands.
All trips outside of the home must be previously approved by a probation officer even if it is for a permitted activity.
5. There are many other requirements that go along with house arrest
While on house arrest, the person incarcerated must comply with many requirements. These vary by jurisdiction. At a minimum he or she will have to complete random drug and alcohol tests, meet with a probation or parole officer about four times a month, maintain employment or go to school, and, of course, come straight home after any permitted activities.
It is also possible that the person who is under house arrest does not have a living environment that meets the standards of the supervising judge or county. This may occur if the person lives in Section 8 housing or if they have excessive roommates. If this is the case, then the sentence can in rare circumstances be carried out in a halfway home.
A halfway home is a home for people recently released from jail or prison, people on house arrest, or those undergoing required treatment for addictions required by the state. Even though the restrictions are severe, many people prefer this sentence over a stay in jail or prison.
Contact The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC Today!
If you have been arrested for an offense that possibly includes jail time if found guilty, you need strong representation from an experienced attorney to assist you with the upcoming hearings and potential sentencing. While house arrest is not available for every county and every offense, Marni Jo Snyder and her team are knowledgeable about sentencing guidelines and can discuss what may be available for your case.
Contact our offices today so we may begin fighting for you. Call us at 215-515-3360 for your free consultation!