Duhaime's Law Dictionary

House Arrest Definition:

The judicial obligation upon an individual that she/he be forbidden to leave his or her place of residence except for limited, specified circumstances.

Related Terms: Curfew, Electronic Monitoring, Community Custody

House arrest may be accompanied by electronic monitoring (electronic house arrest), or a condition whereupon the suspect or offender is prohibited from leaving his or her designated residence except in the company of a specified person, sometimes called a surety.

A house arrest order may include exemptions for medical necessities, employment or attendance for religious worship. For example:

"(She) is to remain in her apartment for the next 2 years. She is allowed to leave her apartment only for medical reasons, employment, religious services, or to conduct essential food shopping. If she violates these conditions, the probation department is ordered to commit her to prison, where she will be required to serve out her suspended (not cancelled) prison term."1

A person subject to house arrest may be prohibited from leaving his/her stated residence except in the presence of one of his sureties.

On good behaviour for a stated period of time, some bail or conditional sentences replace house arrest with a final period of a curfew.

Here is an sample of an 8-month conditional sentence which includes a provision for house arrest:

"Regular reporting at the direction of the supervisor, house arrest for the first 4 months subject to pre-approved exceptions, a curfew for the balance of the order, an abstinence condition throughout the order as a reminder that this is a jail sentence and 50 hours of community service work, to be completed by the end of the 5th month."

Note also these words of Justice Veale of the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory in R. v. Eby and Goodman:

"... the distinction between house arrest and being placed under curfew. There is a significant difference. House arrest is an order that requires the offender to be, in effect, incarcerated in their own home, except for limited circumstances with the permission of the Court or the sentence supervisor.

"A curfew, on the other hand, gives the offender the freedom to move about in the community at their own discretion so long as they comply with the general conditions of their sentence and return to their residence for the hours of curfew, typically 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. when many citizens are in their homes in any event."

House arrest, when ordered on a pre-trial basis, is considered to be one of the most stringent of bail conditions.

In the vernacular of youth and in the context of the imposition of parental discipline, house arrest is often referrreed to as being grounded.


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