The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a financial strain on hundreds of Maryland individuals facing home detention for sentencing and pre-trial matters. Because jury trials are suspended until at least April, if you’re on house arrest, you may be staying that way a little longer. And that means you’re stuck paying home detention fees until the courts get their act together. It doesn’t seem fair.
In a classic case of the broken clock being right twice a day, Baltimore County doesn’t think so, either. They recently eliminated fees for individuals on home detention, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the cause. According to the Baltimore Sun, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said:
This is an issue of simple fairness. Individuals on home detention, most of whom are individuals not convicted and awaiting adjudication of non-violent crime charges, should not have to face additional financial burdens. Expensive home monitoring fees create unnecessary impediments, and the elimination of home monitoring fees will better allow these residents to support themselves and their families.
We completely agree, my man.
The Maryland Home Detention Program
House arrest and home detention in MD is meant for both inmates and individuals awaiting pre-trial sentencing. For inmates, home detention allows eligible inmates to get home supervision rather than jail time. This not only prevents spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons, but also allows inmates to work, support their families, and be involved in the community.
For those awaiting trial, house arrest allows them to stay out of custody while trials are suspended during the pandemic. However, the longer you’re under house arrest, the longer you’re subject to home detention fees. And if you can’t afford those fees, off to jail you go.
Worse? If you use a private home detention service and your charges are dropped or you’re found not guilty, you don’t get that money back.
According to CBS Baltimore, before B-more waived those fees, they included:
- One-time lab fee for drug testing at $25
- One-time monitoring fee of $9
- Weekly program fee of $60
It adds up. Sometimes you can get financial assistance, but in times where everyone is struggling financially, Baltimore County is taking steps in the right direction.
Proposed legislation may end home monitoring costs for good
State lawmakers are hoping the rest of Maryland will follow suit by putting forth legislation that would both end these fees and prohibit state-funded courts from charging defendants for home monitoring systems – SB 23 and SB 229. Cross-filed together, these bills are currently in the state Senate.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need savvy and prompt criminal defense. You need fair and honest treatment both in and out of the courtroom. And that means you need to call me.
Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law provides experienced defense when you’re facing criminal charges. Let us work with you to get the best outcome for your case. Give our Annapolis or Ellicott City offices a call today at 410-271-1892 or reach out to me through my firm’s contact page.
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