A few months ago I represented a client for his fourth DUI with a rather high BAC. If that wasn’t bad enough, he hadn’t paid fines related to his priors and had violate probation twice. He expressed concern over serving time in jail because he ran his own business that couldn’t operate without him. After some negotiation with the prosecutor, my client was allowed to serve his time through home confinement instead of going to jail. Needless to say, he was pretty happy.
California Penal Code section 1203.016(a) states,
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the board of supervisors of any county may authorize the correctional administrator…to offer a program under which inmates committed to a county jail or other county correctional facility…may voluntarily participate or involuntarily be placed in a home detention program during their sentence in lieu of confinement in the county jail or other county correctional facility or program under the auspices of the probation officer.”
Home confinement is a form of “alternative sentencing,” which provides an alternative to jail for low-risk and non-violent defendants. Home confinement is sometimes referred to as house arrest, home detention or electronic monitoring. Regardless of what you call it, home confinement stays true to its name. You are confined to your residence as punishment. If you’re a home body like me, that’s not too bad.
Obviously someone, especially someone who lives alone, cannot be confined 24/7. How would you go grocery shopping, attend family or child obligations, or travel to medical appointments? The court will likely approve certain locations and activities for you to attend outside of your residence.
How does the court ensure that you are, in fact, staying home?
The first way is a basic electronic transmission. An ankle bracelet transmits a signal to the monitoring agency. The monitoring agency then observes irregularities in the transmission. Irregularities include tampering with the anklet, violating curfew, or traveling outside of an authorized radius.
More advanced is the Global Positioning System (GPS). Kind of makes you think of those things we put in our cars to tell us where we’re at and how to get where we want to go. Well, this is not much different. Also using an ankle bracelet, GPS uses cellular networks to transmit data to a monitoring agency. The difference between GPS and the basic electronic transmission is that with GPS, the monitoring agency knows your exact location at all time.
Be mindful that the cost of these programs is rather expensive. Also take into consideration that if you opt for home confinement you will likely serve out the entire sentence, whereas if you opt to go to jail you could serve a fraction of the entire sentence.