Defendants Could be Forced to Pay for Electronic Monitoring

Posted on Nov 25, 2015 in Criminal Defense

Defendants may sometimes be required to wear ankle monitors as a condition of their bail. The ankle monitor tracks the defendant to ensure that he or she can be found and remains in compliance with bail restrictions. Being made to wear a monitor is invasive and, as the International Business Times reports, it can also be expensive. Many people do not realize that defendants are increasingly being made to pay for their own monitoring.

You could face significant financial costs if you are forced to pay for electronic monitoring either before or after conviction. A New Orleans criminal defense lawyer can help you argue for release on bail without a monitoring requirement and can otherwise assist you with seeking to avoid restrictions and penalties after conviction. With the help of a lawyer, you may be able to avoid court-imposed consequences that have a detrimental impact on your finances and your future.

Paying for Electronic Monitoring Is Costly for Defendants

Between 2000 and 2014, the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to being detained in jail increased by 32 percent. One report found that there were as many as 100,000 people at a time being monitored in the U.S. due to the increased reliance on electronic observation and that number is growing.

While a monitor is preferable to defendants facing the prospect of being locked up, the problem is that studies show all states, except Hawaii and the District of Columbia, charge a fee for monitoring services.  Fees may be paid to private companies that the state contracts with to handle the provision of monitoring services. One such company, Offender Management Services, charges a $179.50 set-up fee and charges an offender $9.25 per day when the monitoring is in effect. This comes to a total of around $300 per month, which a significant number of people cannot afford.

The International Business Times told the story of one man who was required to pay for electronic monitoring, but whose only income was a $900 disability check. The man had been arrested after police pulled him over for failure to use his turn signal while he was driving his mother’s car without a license. He had hitched a ride to retrieve the car for his mother and drove it home after it broke down at a nearby fast food restaurant.  When he was released on bail – even before he was convicted of anything – he was ordered to pay for the costly monitoring that the Times indicates “sent him into debt and nearly wrecked his life.”

Local municipalities allow things like this to happen because of the enormous cost of mass incarceration to taxpayers. Keeping people imprisoned costs around $80 billion per year, with state and local governments paying around 90 percent of the cost. The finances are unsustainable unless defendants are made to pay, so the system is unlikely to change any time soon.

Defendants faced with these exorbitant costs need to make sure they have a skillful criminal defense lawyer who can try to help them avoid a court order for costly monitoring that could devastate their finances.

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