Electronic Monitoring in Colorado

Electronic Monitoring is a form of alternative sentencing that uses an electronic device or tracker to supervise an offender in Colorado. It allows you to:

  • remain free of prison
  • in return for wearing an electronic monitoring device
  • in accordance with the rules set forth by the court.

Types of Devices

Electronic monitoring devices vary greatly, but a few common types are used frequently in Colorado courts:

  • radio frequency (RF) monitoring transmitters, connected with a landline or cellular base station;
  • global positioning system (GPS);
  • continuous alcohol monitoring transdermal alcohol detection (TAD);
  • electronic pagers paired with automatic number identifier (ANI); and
  • curfew checks using a random call generation program.

There are other types available on the market, and -- with the rapid increase of advanced technology -- new versions of these devices are updated all the time.

Types of Restrictions

While on supervision with a device, you may be restricted from:

  • drinking any alcohol;
  • consuming illegal drugs or prescription drugs (except those prescriptions from a doctor and approved by the court); and/or -- among other restrictions --
  • socializing or otherwise communicating with a certain individual or individuals (i.e., protective orders).

You may also be required to:

  • be home at a certain hour (curfew);
  • follow restrictions about where you may travel (i.e. work, school, family, etc.); and/or -- among other requirements --
  • check in with your probation department.

Violations of Restrictions

The device's main job is to detect violations of the restrictions placed upon you by the court in exchange for not having to go to jail or prison. Courts take violations very seriously, and you could face:

  • revocation of your "house arrest" or home detention;
  • extension of probationary period;
  • ineligibility for community corrections programs;
  • sentence to jail or prison;
  • fines; or
  • having additional restrictions placed upon you.

Requesting Electronic Monitoring

Whether electronic monitoring is an option for an offender is ultimately up to the court, at its discretion. However, an individual can request monitoring through his or her attorney.

Costs of Monitoring

In Colorado, it is up to the offender to pay for the costs of electronic monitoring in most cases. If an offender is gainfully employed and his or her income (minus necessary expenses) is sufficient, then the costs of electronic monitoring will be taxed to the offender on supervision.

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about electronic monitoring for Colorado residents:

Ankle bracelet
Electronic monitoring devices vary greatly, but a few common types are used frequently in Colorado courts.

1. What is electronic monitoring?

Electronic Monitoring is a form of alternative sentencing which uses an electronic device or tracker to supervise an offender in Colorado. It allows you to:

  • remain free of prison
  • in return for wearing an electronic monitoring device
  • so long as you follow the rules set forth by the court. 1

1.1 What does an electronic monitoring device allow me to do?

Being on an electronic monitoring program allows you to:

  • stay out of jail or prison;
  • work at your job;
  • attend school;
  • take care of your family;
  • attend and participate in alcohol / drug classes, community service, counseling appointments;
  • go to medical appointments;
  • participate in any other activity approved by the court.

During that time, and within the restrictions set by the court, you will wear some form of electronic device which will track your movement or some other aspect of your person.

2. What types of devices exist for monitoring?

There are many different types of electronic monitoring devices, but the following are some of the most common:

  • radio frequency (RF) monitoring transmitters, connected with a landline or cellular base station;
  • global positioning system (GPS);
  • continuous alcohol monitoring transdermal alcohol detection (TAD);
  • electronic pagers paired with automatic number identifier (ANI); and
  • curfew checks using a random call generation program.

2.1 What is a GPS tracking device?

A GPS tracking device is placed on the offender, usually around the ankle ("ankle monitor") to detect where and when a person travels.

Using a combination of GPS and wireless internet technologies, these devices:

  • transmit data on a 24-hour basis;
  • allows monitoring of specific inclusion and exclusion zones; and
  • can map and track where a person is and where he or she has been.

These devices are commonly used to enforce restrictions based on "territory," meaning where a person can or cannot go. They can be very precise, so it is important to know where you are allowed to be, and more importantly, where you are not allowed to be.

2.2 What is an alcohol monitoring device?

An alcohol monitoring device is used to detect whether a person has consumed alcohol. These are typically placed on an offender when:

  • he or she has committed an offense in which alcohol was involved (i.e. DUI);
  • he or she is forbidden from consuming alcohol while on supervision;
  • the court wishes to ensure that any alcohol consumption is immediately caught; or
  • the court wants to help a person addicted to alcohol not to drink by providing a deterrent.

The SCRAM device (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) is able to detect the concentration of alcohol in your blood through your skin (transdermally). It does not monitor where you are like a GPS monitor does.

If a person consumes alcohol, the device will notify the monitoring agency, which will then notify the court.

2.3 Will a court sometimes require multiple kinds of devices?

Yes, at times. That can be expensive, so courts tend to avoid placing multiple devices on offenders, but if a court wants to ensure both that a person avoids a certain area, and does not drink, both devices may be installed on an offender.

3. What types of restrictions are placed on people with electronic monitoring conditions in Colorado?

While on supervision with a device, you may be restricted from:

      • drinking any alcohol;
      • consuming illegal drugs or prescription drugs (except those prescriptions from a doctor and approved by the court); and/or -- among other restrictions --
      • socializing or otherwise communicating with a certain individual or individuals (i.e., protective orders).

You may also be required to:

    • be home at a certain hour (curfew);
    • follow restrictions about where you may travel (i.e. work, school, family, etc.); and/or -- among other requirements --
    • check in with your probation department.2

These are not the only kinds of restrictions or requirements that can be placed on an offender. A court is given a great deal of discretion in creating terms and conditions during your probation period.

3.1 What happens if you violate a condition of supervision?

The device's main job is to detect violations of the restrictions placed upon you by the court in exchange for not having to go to jail or prison. Courts take violations very seriously, and you could face:

  • a verbal warning;
  • revocation of your "house arrest" or home detention;
  • extension of probationary period;
  • sentence to jail or prison;
  • fines; or
  • having additional restrictions placed upon you.

You may also have your entire probation revoked, which will likely send you to prison or jail. A revocation hearing will be held terminating your probation.3

In addition to any penalties listed above, a court is less likely to grant you time out of prison in the future. The court may decide that you are not trustworthy of supervision rather than time behind bars.

4. How do I request electronic monitoring from the court?

Electronic monitoring occurs at the discretion of the court, meaning the court decides when to impose it. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you are able to request monitoring in lieu of incarceration as a part of:

  • a plea deal;
  • a recommended sentence; or
  • an addiction treatment plan.

With a proper request, courts are more likely to allow electronic monitoring, possibly keeping you from spending time in jail or prison.

5. Who pays for the costs of electronic monitoring in Colorado?

In Colorado, the offender must pay for the costs of electronic monitoring in most cases. If an offender is gainfully employed and his or her income (minus necessary expenses) is sufficient, then the costs of electronic monitoring will be taxed to the offender on supervision.4

Electronic monitoring can be expensive, but is almost certainly less than the cost of not working due to incarceration. If you have questions or concerns about the costs, or if you are unable to pay, your attorney can help you work with the court to address your financial concerns.

Don't assume you have to do time just because you may have trouble paying for electronic monitoring.

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For questions about electronic monitoring or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


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