Tether and Electronic Monitoring Devices

As a condition of bail, bond, or sentence a Defendant can be ordered by a Court to comply with electronic monitoring.  Electronic monitoring provides Pretrial Services, Probation, and/or Parole with an opportunity to closely supervise an individual in the community.  There are several types of electronic monitoring devices that are commonly used:

GPS (Global Positioning System) Tether – this allows a Defendant’s movements to be tracked by satellite and reported to the appropriate supervising agency.  Hot Zones (also known as Exclusion Zones) are programmed into a computer program that runs in conjunction with the GPS tether that alert authorities whenever the Defendant goes someplace that he or she is not allowed (for example, the home or work of an alleged victim).  GPS Tethers are common for persons charged or convicted of Criminal Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking, or other crimes with a victim.  In order to qualify for a GPS Tether, the Defendant must have a stable address and electricity at the address.  Usually if this is ordered the Defendant is not released from custody until the GPS Tether is set up and functioning, and the alleged victim is notified as to the Defendant being released on tether.
Transdermal Alcohol Tether – this type of tether monitors the Defendant’s skin to determine his or her Blood Alcohol Level that is usually attached to his or her ankle by a bracelet.  It also monitors whether attempts to circumvent the system are made, based upon tampering with the equipment or a change in the Defendant’s body temperature.
Standard Tether – this device records and reports when a Defendant enters and exits his property.  The Defendant must wear an ankle bracelet and have a landline phone for this device to properly work.
Breathalyzer Monitor – this can be installed in a Defendant’s home or automobile, and does not require an ankle bracelet.  The Defendant must submit to a Preliminary Breath Test when the unit calls the home.  The unit is often equipped with a camera to verify that the Defendant is the person providing the breath sample.  The Defendant must have a stable residence and a landline phone in order to qualify for this device.
Ignition Interlock Device – this is a breathalyzer installed into the Defendant’s vehicle to prevent him or her from starting their car if alcohol is detected in their body.  The driver must blow into the device and pass the alcohol test before the vehilce will start.
Violations of any of these devices are ultimately reported to the Prosecutor’s Office and/or the Court.  If the violation is established, the Court has the option of incarcerating the Defendant within the limits provided by law.  Sometimes violations are reported due issues with the equipment.  There may be other situations, such as emergencies, that may justify the failure to comply with the condition of electronic monitoring.  Whenever an allegation arises that the Defendant failed to comply with electronic monitoring he or she should immediately contact their lawyer because a violation of electronic monitoring will often lead to incarceration if a good explanation cannot be provided.
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