Updated March 25, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE: Inmates may be able to serve their sentences on house arrest due to coronavirus being so easily contagious in jails and prisons. Vulnerable inmates with asthma or diabetes or who are elderly are particularly at risk.
Judges may agree to release certain inmates from custody early, especially if their sentences ends soon. Or else judges may agree to allow certain inmates to serve the sentences under house arrest. The inmate’s criminal defense attorney can file a motion to modify the sentence to ask the judge for early release or home confinement.
People under House Arrest in Nevada wear ankle bracelets like these which allow law enforcement to know where they are at all times.
Sometimes a defendant may avoid jail in Nevada by instead serving the time at home under electronic surveillance. Judges aren’t always willing to consider this option. But a skilled Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer knows the best arguments that may persuade a court to grant house arrest.
This article explains the definition of house arrest in Nevada and how it works. It also describes the electronic monitoring equipment used in conjunction with home confinement. Keep reading to learn more.
What is House Arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada?
House arrest (or “home confinement”) is a type of alternative sentencing in Nevada. Like it sounds, house arrest is when a Nevada court allows a defendant to forgo jail by instead staying home for a certain period of time under electronic monitoring. A judge may impose house arrest at one of two points during a criminal case:
- After the defendant is arrested and is awaiting trial. The typical scenario is that the defendant can pay the required Nevada bail but the criminal charges are too serious for him/her to enjoy the freedom of travel.
- When the defendant is convicted and the judge imposes a sentence. In some cases the judge will sentence a defendant to house arrest instead of prison (or in addition to prison). These defendants are usually entered into the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Intensive Supervision Program, which monitors them for the duration of the house arrest.
Defendants serving house arrest must comply with any other requirements the judge may order. Typical rules include
- appearing regularly for court,
- frequent drug testing,
- submission to searches at any time by law enforcement, and
- relinquishing firearms and passports.
Can people on house arrest ever leave the house?
Usually yes. Judges order different terms and conditions depending on the circumstances of the individual case. But in many matters a defendant under house arrest in Las Vegas may be allowed to:
- go to work or school,
- go to doctor’s appointments or drug testing,
- go to counseling, community service, or alcohol & drug counseling,
- tend to familial obligations, or
- go to court appearances, lawyer appointments, and any other activities approved by the court
However, a defendant under house arrest may go only to and from the court-approved locations and nowhere else. They can’t even stop somewhere that’s on the way. Otherwise, the defendant’s electronic monitoring equipment will notify law enforcement that there’s been a breach.
How is house arrest electronically monitored in?
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police use a GPS-based electronic surveillance system called Omnilink. Defendants on house arrest wear waterproof ankle bracelets that track their real-time location not only outdoors but also indoors and in moving vehicles.
If the defendant ever tampers with the bracelet, breaks curfew or goes near prohibited areas (called “exclusion zones” such as a victim’s home), it alerts law enforcement. The defendant may then lose house arrest privileges and be sent to jail or
Nevada State Prison instead.
Is the SCRAM device used?
Some people on house arrest are also ordered to wear a SCRAM device, which stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It’s also an ankle bracelet but it’s not used to follow the defendant’s physical location. Rather it continually measures the defendant’s alcohol concentration through the skin (called “transdermal monitoring”).
Judges typically order defendants to wear SCRAM devices if they’ve been convicted of violating Nevada drunk driving law. If the SCRAM detects alcohol, it will notify law enforcement.
Defendants are usually responsible to pay for all the costs associated with using electronic monitoring. For instance, the Las Vegas Municipal Court House Arrest Unit charges people on house arrest a $100 administrative start-up fee plus a daily $12 monitoring fee.
How does a defendant get house arrest?
The defendant’s attorney usually has to request house arrest and then convince the judge that the defendant deserves it and will abide by the rules. Sometimes a parole board recommends a defendant for house arrest. Obviously judges favor defendants who are cooperative, non-violent and not a flight risk.
Can prison inmates be given house arrest?
Sometimes. The Nevada Department of Public Safety offers two different programs that allow certain inmates to serve a portion of their sentence with house arrest. The first one is for DUI offenders. The second is for non-violent offenders:
1) DUI offenders (NRS 209.429)
The “305 Program” allows certain prison inmates who have been convicted of drunk driving in Nevada to finish their sentences via house arrest. In order to be accepted into this program the inmate needs to have demonstrated a willingness to be rehabilitated, to get a job, and to pay for the costs associated with house arrest.
2) Non-violent offenders (NRS 209.392)
The “317 Program” is a way for certain inmates convicted of non-violent crimes to serve some of their prison sentence under house arrest. Inmates also have to demonstrate readiness to gain employment, be rehabilitated and pay for the electronic surveillance. Applicants are automatically disqualified if they’ve committed any of the following:
- a serious infraction of the prison rules,
- a failure to perform assigned duties at the prison,
- an escape or attempted escape from jail or prison,
- a conviction for a violent felony in the last three years, a sexual offense felony, a category A felony in Nevada, or a category B felony in Nevada, OR
- a conviction for more than one felony in Nevada
- or equivalent felony in another state (not including DUI)
Both the 305 and 317 programs have a “zero tolerance” policy. This means that one mistake is enough to cause the defendant to lose their house arrest privileges completely.
What happens if a defendant violates the terms of house arrest?
When a defendant’s electronic monitoring bracelet detects a possible house arrest violation, it sends a signal to law enforcement. At that point, the defendant may be arrested again, booked at Clark County Detention Center and brought back to court to face questioning about the incident.
If the equipment merely malfunctioned or the defendant had an innocent accident, the judge might not impose any punishment. But a willful violation of the rules may result in loss of house arrest privileges. In other words, the defendant will go back into custody for the remainder of the sentence.
Arrested? Call us for help . . .
If you’re facing incarceration in Nevada, call Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys. They offer free consultations to discuss the possibility of being able to do house arrest instead of jail or prison.
For information about electronic monitoring in California criminal cases, refer to our article on Electronic monitoring in California criminal cases. And for an in-depth discussion of house arrest and home confinement as a jail alternative in California, read our article on House Arrest and Home Confinement as a Jail Alternative in California.