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Electronic Monitoring Jail Alternative in California Criminal Cases

Posted by Sam Israels | Dec 04, 2019

Most California criminal courts seek ways to relieve overcrowding in jails while maintaining control of criminal behavior.  For example, Los Angeles County criminal courts offer a wide range of alternative sentencing options for some people – rather than incarceration – while they attempt to ensure public safety.

A popular alternative sentence used by most California criminal courts involves electronic monitoring home confinement. We have assisted many clients in Los Angeles obtain home monitoring as an alternative to serving their time in a county jail. We are very familiar with the process and know effective arguments to persuade a judge to grant home confinement.

There are a variety of California electronic monitoring programs. It should be noted not every defendant will qualify for an electronic monitoring program as an alternative to jail time. There are certain rules in place that determine a defendant's eligibility for home confinement.

To give readers a better understanding of electronic monitoring programs, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Description of California Electronic Monitoring and Home Confinement

In basic terms, home confinement in California criminal cases is set by the judge and will always carry specific conditions requiring you to remain inside your home during portions of the day. In other words, these conditions are imposed rather than sitting in jail.

It's controlled by use of an electronic monitoring device that is designed to restrict your freedom to a specific location – commonly known as “house arrest” – involving the use of a bracelet worn on your ankle to verify location and times.

There are many California electronic monitored programs used as a condition of probation or parole.  It's uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) using satellite technology to track your movements within a general area. Its primary function is to confirm compliance with the terms of your probation.

It's primarily designed to help with the prison overcrowding crises which led to passing the California Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011.

California Electronic monitoring programs are a powerful tool to supervise a convicted defendant in the community. It's an established jail alternative used by judges for certain low-risk offenders convicted of non-violent crimes. It can also be used for high-risk offenders on parole released from a California state prison.

Types of California Electronic Monitoring Tools

In Los Angeles County criminal courts, there are various types of electronic monitoring systems, and all of them are utilized as an alternative to serving time in jail.

SCRAM device 

A SCRAM device, which stands for “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor” is a type of electronic monitoring frequently used as a penalty for California DUI cases.

It's an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol concentration through your skin, but doesn't monitor your location.  If you decide to drink some alcohol, the device alerts a monitoring agency who will then report the violation to the court. It is not designed to prohibit where your travel.

In situations where the court wants to keep track of your location and any alcohol consumption, they will use a monitoring tool called “home detention plus SCRAM.” This bracelet is used in connection with a home base station and monitor restrictions on curfew and your blood alcohol level.

Home detention 

Home detention monitoring is the most common by using an ankle transmitter bracelet and a home monitoring unit, which is installed and connected to a home phone line or even a cellular signal.  It should be noted that you have to pay for using this type of monitoring program. However, if you don't have an ability to pay, you could still be eligible for the program.

The ankle transmitter bracelet sends a 24-hour signal a monitoring agency that gives them real-time communication of tampering with instrument, irregular use, or violation of curfew or location restrictions.

Drug Patch

If you were convicted of a California drug-related crime, the court has the option to order drug patches which test for methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and PCP.  These drug patches are tested and replaced weekly.

Eligibility Requirements for Home Confinement

If you were convicted of a crime in a Los Angeles County criminal court, you could be eligible for house arrest, rather than jail. It should be noted, however, you will have to meet specific conditions to be eligible for the program.

  • You are a low-risk, non-violent offender
  • You live close to where you were sentenced
  • Have a phone line for a connection
  • You were sentenced to time in county jail
  • Agree to rules and condition of house arrest
  • Pay for the program, based on an ability to pay

It's important to note that if you were convicted for a serious felony crime – such as a sex crime or violent crime – or you served time in a California state prison – you won't typically be eligible to participate in a house arrest program.

Terms for a California Home Confinement Program

In most cases, you will be required to remain at your home, but it's possible for the court to order less restrictive terms. Once a criminal court judge grants house arrest, it means you can avoid serving time in jail, as long as you follow the terms and conditions set by the court.

Common terms and conditions for home confinement include:

  • Regular meetings with probation or parole officer
  • Random drug tests
  • Curfew restrictions

In some cases, the judge might allow you to do any of the following:

  • Attend counseling, drug or alcohol classes
  • Attend school or go to work
  • Travel to doctor's appointments
  • Handle family issues
  • Participate in other activities approved by court

A home confinement program is not always offered by a criminal court. In other words, it's considered a jail alternative and needs to be requested by your criminal defense attorney who is familiar with these types of programs and knows the type of program available for you case. You lawyer must also know effective arguments to convince the judge to allow it.

Violating a California Electronic Monitoring Program

The tools described above are utilized for enforcement of house arrest and will send signals to an electronic monitoring agency.  If you decide to leave you home – or if you go past an approved distance – their equipment will automatically recognize a violation and record a signal interruption.

Next, the monitoring agency will send notification to your  probation or parole officer. This means you could face an arrest for a violation of the terms of the program. The judge will probably revoke your home arrest program and sentence you to the remainder of your sentence of the underlying crime.

Contact Our Defense Attorneys for Help

If you have been accused of a crime in Los Angeles, you might be eligible for a home confinement program. Contact our criminal defense attorneys who have decades of experience obtaining alternative sentencing in order to avoid jail time.

We are skilled negotiators and will work to achieve the best possible outcome on your case. We will closely review all the details of your situation in order to develop an effective strategy on keeping you. Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 

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About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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