Curfews and Electronic Monitoring of Probationers

Some probationers are subject to a curfew—a time each day (usually in the evening or at night) when they are restricted to their residence. Recent changes to the law have generated some questions about curfews. In particular, there appears to be some confusion about whether a curfew can or must be monitored electronically. This post collects the relevant statutes and discusses some of the legal issues raised by electronically-monitored curfews.

At the outset, I should be clear about what I mean by electronic monitoring. As a result of legislation passed in 2011, “electronic monitoring” is a defined term throughout Chapter 15A. S.L. 2011-245 (SB 311). It means “monitoring with an electronic monitoring device that is not removed from a person’s body, that is utilized by the supervising agency in conjunction with a Web-based computer system that actively monitors, identifies, tracks, and records a person’s location at least once every minute 24 hours a day . . . .” G.S. 15A-101.1(3a). Thus, when electronic monitoring is statutorily required, it necessarily involves a pretty high-powered technology. In fact, when Community Corrections monitors a curfew electronically, they use the very same GPS-enabled ankle bracelets that they use for satellite-based monitoring of sex offenders (albeit with different policy guidelines for how officers respond to perceived violations).

But when is electronic monitoring of a curfew actually required by statute? Pretty rarely, as it turns out. There are three types of probation curfews: two that may be imposed by a judge and one that may be imposed by a probation officer through delegated authority.

Curfew as a special condition of probation. In general, a curfew is neither a regular nor statutory special condition of probation. It is, rather, something the court may order as an ad hoc special condition of probation under authority of G.S. 15A-1343(b1)(10). The court of appeals once referred to G.S. 15A-1343(b1)(3c) as a curfew condition, see State v. Lambert, 146 N.C. App. 360 (2001), but I think that statutory subdivision more clearly describes electronic house arrest, which is more restrictive than a curfew. The companion fee provision in G.S. 15A-1343(c2) even refers back to subdivision (b1)(3c) as “house arrest with electronic monitoring.” When the court orders electronic house arrest under special condition G.S. 15A-1343(b1)(3c), the law says the offender “shall be required to wear a device which permits the supervising agency to monitor the offender’s compliance with the condition electronically . . . .”  There is no similar provision requiring electronic monitoring for a curfew ordered by the court. A judge could, of course, order monitoring in conjunction with the curfew, but it is not required.

Curfew as part of intensive supervision. Under prior law, a curfew was a standard component of intensive supervision under G.S. 15A-1340.11(5) (defining intensive supervision as probation that requires, among other things, “a specific period each day during which the offender must be at his or her residence”). But even for intensive probationers there was no statutory requirement for the curfew to be monitored electronically. (The Justice Reinvestment Act repealed intensive supervision for probationers with offense dates on and after December 1, 2011, but there are still over 1,700 offenders on intensive supervision.)

Curfew imposed through delegated authority. A probation officer can add a curfew through delegated authority in Structured Sentencing cases. The delegated authority curfew condition allows the officer to require the probationer to “[s]ubmit to a curfew which requires the offender to remain in a specified place for a specified period each day and wear a device that permits the offender’s compliance with the condition to be monitored electronically.” G.S. 15A-1343.2(e) and (f). (The condition is now identical for both community and intermediate probationers.) So, a curfew imposed by a probation officer through delegated authority apparently must be monitored electronically. And because the statute mentions electronic monitoring, the monitoring must be done in a way that complies with the technical requirements of G.S. 15A-101.1(3a). Recall that the officer may only exercise delegated authority in response to a violation or for offenders who fall in supervision levels 1 and 2.

To sum up, only the officer-imposed curfew condition must be monitored electronically. May a judge order electronic monitoring alongside the curfew as a special condition of probation? Yes (assuming the condition is reasonably related to the defendant’s rehabilitation, as required by G.S. 15A-1343(b1)(10)). May a judge order a curfew without also ordering electronic monitoring? Of course. Community Corrections is considering a policy of using electronic monitoring to enforce all curfews (regardless of whether monitoring is mentioned in the judgment), but they have not yet adopted that rule. If they do, I’ll write more about it here.

23 comments on “Curfews and Electronic Monitoring of Probationers

  1. I just got out of prison. Judge ordered curfew. I’m in va. My P.O. says in va they monitor your curfew by the any tray system which will call my home phone several times throughout the night waking me up and I will have to recite a verification code. This doesn’t make sense to me that this could be legal. How can they call you throughout the night and deprive you of sleep?
    I’m not a lawyer so I don’t understand much of this. Can you help me in any way or pointe in the right direction? Also what do you think of the fact that they’re saying that I have to get a phone line installed In a house that isn’t mine? I mean I’m only renting a room someone’s house and what if they so no they don’t want me to install a line into their house?

    • How many warnings are allowed of lateness before ur status is taken away or changed. In other words what warrants a change in your original contract of conditions

  2. can a probation officer put a gps monitor and give a curfew without it being in my judgment or terms
    i live in NC and have a PO that has placed me on this i have alot of tattoos and he thinks im in a gang,club ive been in some trouble never gang related no drug charges no sex charges first felony in 41 years and that is FLMV that was a junk car at that

  3. […] Under limited circumstances, adult curfews are permissible. Primarily, cities and counties may impose adult curfews during states of emergency pursuant to G.S. 166A-19.31(b)(1). See Dobbins, supra (upholding the validity of a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed for several days in Asheville in response to unrest at Asheville High School); United States v. Chalk, 441 F.2d 1277 (4th Cir. 1971) (same, and describing the unrest as “a battle between police officers and black students”; this Asheville Citizen Times article provides additional information about what took place at the school, which was integrated in the fall of 1969). Individualized curfews may also be imposed on adult probationers and others subject to supervision, a topic Jamie addressed here. […]

  4. Ok so I was just released on parole with a ankle monitor and I’ve ask my previous parole officer and my current parole officer how far out of the house am I allowed to go after my 6:00 curfew? Is it like so many feet or am I not allowed out at all after 6 and neither of them could answer my question. Can u please give me the correct answer or tell me who I should talk to to get it?

  5. im currently on parole in North carolina and i am on house arrest and it was described to me as house arrest is these four walls dont go outside dont take the dogs out dont check the mail dont do any of that if you smoke lift up a window

    • Daniel: As far as I know, the statutory house arrest condition is not always read quite like that, and I don’t think Probation policy calls for such a rigid interpretation. Such a strict reading may stem from the days when Probation monitored the condition using radio frequency technology that might not have worked well outside the home. But now that they generally use GPS technology, I would think they could enforce the condition while allowing movement around the residence, including the yard, etc. It may be worth seeking clarification from the judge on how he or she would like the condition enforced.

  6. In NC my granddaughters judgement reads 90 days house arrest with electronic device. After 90 days her probation officer extended the house arrest with electronic device for 30 days. Does he have authority to do so? I know of this probation officer doing things before that he didn’t have a right to do. So I can’t help but wonder. My granddaughter is not a criminal, she was with the wrong people whom she thought was friends. But she’s getting punished worse than several murderers that I know. Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Stop enabling the behavior.

  7. my husband was charged with interfering with electronic monitoring device ( felony charge) can it be pleaded down to a misdemeanor?

  8. What is the longest I can be on a electric monitor and curfew

  9. I know someone that is on house arrest in nc they are supposed to go to work and therapy thats it but they go to the movies and out to eat wherever they want to go they can even stay the night away from home makes no sense nc laws really suck

  10. Can I sleep while charging it

  11. im on house arrest in nc my po tells me im not to even go out the house only place i can go is to doctor and to see her im not allowed to get a job i cant pay my bills and im out of food is she allowed to do me this way 24 hours a day house arrest. i owe fines and she keeps telling me if there not paid she going to violate me what should i do about not being able to work so i can pay my bills

  12. Hi my loved one had a psychotic break while at a mental hospital for treatment, the monitor was removed, not by medical staff. Is this a felony? What would the maximum sentence? My loved one has been given a court date. Parole has been as kind as they can , since my loved one has been well behaved for the first four months and this was only six months of monitoring to start with. Any recommendations? Again, is this a felony? What would the sentence range be? Could my loved one be found innocent under these conditions, mentally impaired?

  13. I’m daniel I wear a monitor but can go any were but parks or schools they some kids live across the road and my po told me I can’t walk down my road cause I’ll pass there house. But I’m in the road can he do that

  14. I live at a sober house I have the gps bracelet and I got a weekend pass that was approved by my P.O. so does he just move my address to the one I’m staying at for the night or remove my curfew for the night I live in ma

  15. They don’t work -and only have a staff of 10 people . I was charged with a crime I did not commit-

  16. My girlfriend has had a split sentence she finished her post release and started her probation keeping the same po she’s been out of prison a year and been in full compliance up until last week when she failed a drug test and also stayed the night at my house a couple times her po has violated her for not reporting to her residents Wich IS NOT TRUE and for failing a test these are her first violations she was put on a curfew and a ankle monitor she wasn’t given a opportunity to plea and she has never gone before a court. Can we appeal? Do we have a case?

  17. 30 days after being on probation without any violations can the probation officer supervisor change your probation just because. can the officer tell you that if you don’t sign the document that you are going to jail. because I thought that probation with monitoring technology has to be court order. I don’t understand how a probation supervisor can be the probation supervisor and the Judge.

  18. What mandates the 6 am to 6 pm regulation for offenders in the state of NC?

  19. I live in NC and have been on EM for over a month now and my po just called me and said that he is tired of getting alert and text from me. I was just told 2 days ago I couldn’t leave the county in which I “live” but I am on the line and closer to the other. We shop there and get gas there. Now he called saying i am not allowed to leave the inside of my house to play with my daughter or walk my dog after 6pm. Said if he gets anything me going on porch to smoke he will be here to arrest me. How is any of this okay? And if it is the why wait over a month to say this to me? Can someone help me with this?

  20. Hey I posted bond and went for my first appearance and was put on a ankle monitor can they do that