AggressiveCriminal Defense For Texans

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Is electronic monitoring an option worth seeking?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Jails and prisons throughout Texas and nationwide are dangerously overcrowded. While that’s certainly not a good situation, it can work to your advantage if you have been convicted or pled guilty to a crime that can result in a period of incarceration.

Texas has an electronic monitoring program that allows some people to avoid jail time by agreeing to wear a monitor (“ankle bracelet”) that tracks their location via GPS. These kinds of programs are commonly referred to as “house arrest” even though most people who participate in them are allowed to leave their home for specified purposes and to go to preapproved locations, like work, school and obligations related to their case, like alcohol or drug treatment and court dates.

Understanding the conditions and rules

Under Texas law, “A judge, at the time of the pronouncement of a sentence of confinement or at any time while the defendant is serving the sentence may permit the defendant to serve the sentence under house arrest, including electronic monitoring and any other conditions the court chooses to impose, during the person’s off-work hours.”

These electronic monitoring programs are operated by local corrections departments, commissioners courts and community supervision departments. Sometimes they’re run by private contractors working for these entities.

Penalties for violating electronic monitoring regulations

It’s crucial to understand the conditions of electronic monitoring and additional conditions ordered by the judge before seeking this option – or accepting it if you’re approved for it. If someone violates any of the conditions, under the law, the court can “revoke a defendant’s participation in an electronic monitoring program and require the defendant to serve the remainder of the sentence of confinement in county jail…”

Just this May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law making it a felony to cut off an ankle monitor. Prior to that it had been an administrative offense rather than a criminal one. The change came after a man cut off his monitor and killed two people in a Dallas hospital – as well as other incidents of people cutting off their ankle bracelets and committing crimes.

Certainly, if you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, the best outcome is to get the charge dropped. If you’re innocent or there were irregularities in the arrest or evidence collection, you should have a vigorous defense. However, if you’re at the point where you have the chance to seek electronic monitoring instead of jail time, it’s wise to learn more about it.