The fact that many of our nation’s jails and prisons are seriously overcrowded can work to your advantage if you’re pleading guilty or have been found guilty of a nonviolent crime and aren’t determined to be a danger to the community. In Virginia, you may qualify for a “home/electronic incarceration program.” You may also qualify for it as an alternative to being in jail while you’re awaiting trial.
You’ve probably heard it called “house arrest.” However, that’s somewhat of a misnomer because those in the program can typically leave their home to go to work or school and attend required counseling, community service activities and legal or court appointments.
The electronic monitoring is accomplished with an ankle monitor that must remain on at all times. If you go outside the designated perimeter(s), the agency monitoring you will be notified and you could face additional legal penalties.
Is electronic monitoring right for you?
It certainly can be a highly preferable alternative to even a short jail sentence. However, it’s crucial to understand the restrictions you’ll be under if you participate in the program and be confident that you can adhere to them.
For example, the terms of house arrest typically include not using drugs or alcohol. Some types of ankle bracelets can detect alcohol. It’s crucial to abstain while you’re wearing a monitor. Remember that you can be visited at any time unannounced by a law enforcement or probation officer.
You’ll likely have restrictions on who can visit you or with whom you can associate while you’re in the program. It’s important to determine what those restrictions are – particularly if you don’t live alone.
It can be very hard to hide an ankle monitor, so you may face some embarrassment. However, be careful about doing anything to the monitor if you’re trying to make it less obtrusive. Anything you do could be considered tampering, which can have legal consequences. It can also be very expensive if you break it.
If you have the option of electronic monitoring, ensure that you’re making a decision you can live with for the monitoring period. The last thing you want is more charges being added to the one(s) you’re already facing. It’s wise to have legal guidance if you want to seek electronic monitoring as an alternative to jail and to help you understand your responsibilities.