How to Get Electronic Monitoring for Bail or Immigration Release

Three Parts:Negotiating for Electronic MonitoringSelecting an Electronic Monitoring SystemComplying with Electronic Monitoring System Requirements

Many people who are in custody awaiting a bail or immigration hearing may be eligible for alternatives to detention or incarceration. You can look into a range of options for electronic monitoring, GPS tracking, alcohol monitoring and other solutions to get the best chances for release from custody before your trial or hearing. This kind of monitoring is also available as an alternative to incarceration even after a sentencing hearing.

Part 1
Negotiating for Electronic Monitoring

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    Talk to the police or prosecutor’s office about your options. The first step in becoming part of an electronic monitoring system is to understand what options are available to you. In some cases, whether you are involved in a criminal prosecution or an immigration detention, the government may allow you to request electronic monitoring rather than detention or prison time.[1] If you wish to participate in such a monitoring program, you need to notify the sheriff, corrections officer, or whatever agency controls your case.
    • If you are involved in a criminal or immigration matter, you may wish to have your attorney contact the government agency on your behalf.
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    Understand the eligibility requirements for electronic monitoring options. The specific details of eligibility will vary depending on your circumstances. Pre-trial monitoring is different than immigration monitoring, but the general idea is the same. The following are some factors that are considered in making eligibility determinations:[2][3]
    • You must be someone who is being held for a non-violent offense
    • You must have no, or few, prior arrests
    • You should be able to demonstrate steady employment or education
    • If you are juvenile, you are under steady supervision by your parents
    • There is no reason for the government to expect that you will not appear at future hearings
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    Express your willingness to participate in an electronic monitoring program. You or your attorney should notify the government agency of your willingness to participate. If you are dealing with a criminal issue, you will likely talk with the prosecuting attorney or the judge. For immigration matters, you will work with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
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    Ask for an electronic monitoring device at a sentencing hearing. If you get to the point of being sentenced for a criminal conviction, you or your attorney can recommend that the court apply an electronic monitoring device as an alternative to incarceration. Many judicial systems are electing to apply this sort of control because it can be cheaper for the judicial system and can allow you to continue with some aspects of your life, such as getting a job.[4]

Part 2
Selecting an Electronic Monitoring System

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    Research companies that provide electronic monitoring. In many areas, electronic monitoring services are privatized.[5] This means that, while your case is controlled by some agency of the government, the actual monitoring is conducted by a commercial company. You may have an option of either selecting or recommending the company that will conduct the monitoring in your case. Search online for companies that would service your needs.
    • Some companies only serve particular local areas. Others, like TrackGroup, consist of a network of private companies in many states.[6]
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    Obtain an acceptance letter from the monitoring company. After you find an acceptable monitoring agency, ask if they will provide an “acceptance letter” or “eligibility letter.” This is a statement from the company that says they will take your case and provide the monitoring service that you need.[7]
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    Share the acceptance letter with the government. Either you or your attorney can then share your acceptance letter with the prosecutor or governmental agency that is supervising your case. You can suggest that you be monitored through the system that you identified.[8]
    • Understand that you may not be in a position to select the monitoring system, and the government may simply direct you to one agency.
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    Investigate the costs you will be responsible to pay. As a result of privatizing the electronic monitoring system, many of the costs are passed on to the detainee (you). These costs may include an initial activation fee and a daily monitoring fee. You should investigate what costs will be part of the system that you will enroll in and be sure that you are able to pay them.[9]

Part 3
Complying with Electronic Monitoring System Requirements

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    Follow the instructions of the court or governmental agency. The government agents, prosecutor, or judge will inform you of the requirements for participating in an electronic monitoring program. This may vary from wearing an ankle or wrist monitor, to making daily check-in phone calls or appointments. Whatever the requirements, you need to comply.
    • Any efforts to tamper with electronic monitoring devices are usually identified quickly and will result in further investigation.
    • You may lose the right to participate in the program if you tamper with the device. This may result in your immediate return to detention or prison.
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    Stay within your allowed range of motion. Depending on the charges against you, you may be required to remain in your house at all times. This is often referred to as “house arrest.” If you leave the house, your monitor will signal a warning with your probation officer or the police and you risk further charges. Alternatively, you may be allowed to continue going to work, attending certain meetings, and could have free range of motion within a prescribed area.
    • Be sure that you understand the area in which you are allowed to travel. If you have any uncertainty, you need to ask for clarification. It will not be a valid defense, after you violate the allowed area, to say that you didn’t understand.
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    Attend all required meetings or counseling sessions. As part of your monitoring, you may be required to attend counseling sessions, Alcoholics Anonymous (or similar) meetings, or some other form of counseling. Your electronic monitoring device will likely be programmed for these meetings to allow you to travel at specific times.[10][11]

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Categories: Criminal and Penal Law Procedure