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What Is House Arrest In NSW?

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House arrest, also known as home detention or electronic monitoring, offers individuals the opportunity to serve their sentences within the confines of their own homes, under certain conditions and restrictions.

House Arrest Meaning

House arrest, as defined within the framework of NSW criminal law, involves restricting a person’s movement and activities to their residence or a specified location for a certain period, usually as a part of their sentence or bail condition. This alternative sanction aims to strike a balance between punishment and rehabilitation, providing individuals with a chance to reintegrate into society while maintaining a degree of control over their movements.


The practice of house arrest is facilitated through electronic monitoring devices that track an individual’s movements within designated boundaries. This ensures compliance with the terms and conditions set by a court order. House arrest may be imposed as a bail condition or standalone sentence or as part of a broader community-based order, depending on the severity of the offence, the offender’s criminal history, and the overall circumstances of the case.

House Arrest as a Form of Bail in NSW

The question of whether house arrest can be granted as a form of bail in NSW raises important considerations. Bail serves as a temporary release of an accused individual from custody while they await trial. It is designed to balance the presumption of innocence with the need to ensure the accused person’s attendance at court proceedings.


In NSW, the courts may consider house arrest as a form of bail in certain cases. However, the decision is not taken lightly and is contingent on various factors, including the seriousness of the alleged offence, the strength of the prosecution case, the accused person’s criminal history, the likelihood of reoffending, and the availability of suitable residence and support networks.

Eligibility for house arrest in NSW is subject to several criteria and factors. These include the nature of the offence committed, the offender’s criminal record, history of substance abuse, their personal circumstances, and their willingness to adhere to the conditions set by the court. Generally, house arrest is considered for individuals who pose a risk of reoffending and whose personal circumstances indicate that the alternative sanction would be effective in achieving rehabilitation goals.


The court takes into account various considerations when determining eligibility for house arrest, such as the offender’s ties to the community, the presence of a stable residence, and the availability of a support network. The decision to grant house arrest is ultimately aimed at balancing public safety with the rehabilitation of the offender, and compliance with the imposed conditions of house arrest.


A range of conditions can be imposed on individuals before they are granted bail by a Court. The specific conditions that are imposed usually depend on factors such as the nature of the offence, the personal circumstances of the individual, and the identified risks. Some typical bail conditions and terms of house arrest include:


  • Requiring the person to reside at a pre approved specified address;
  • A restriction that prevents the individual from accessing international departure areas;
  • A requirement for the individual to surrender their passport;
  • Not to apply for any new passport or travel document;
  • A condition that mandates the individual to provide a monetary deposit as a form of assurance;
  • A condition of refraining from consuming alcohol and drugs;
  • A requirement to solely use one mobile phone;
  • A condition to attend all medical appointments;
  • Imposing a curfew that restricts the person from leaving their home during specific hours, sometimes resulting in virtual house arrest;
  • Mandating that the person report to the police on a certain number of designated days;
  • Prohibiting the person from entering certain locations, which may encompass entire neighbourhoods; and
  • Restricting the person from communicating with specific individuals.

The Court's Approach to House Arrest for Bail

When considering house arrest for bail application in NSW, the court must carefully assess whether the accused person’s release into the community poses an acceptable level of risk to public safety and whether they are likely to adhere to the conditions of their release. The court’s decision is influenced by the principles of ensuring the accused person’s attendance at court proceedings, preventing interference with witnesses or evidence, and maintaining public confidence in the justice system.


For house arrest to be considered a viable form of bail, the accused person must present a comprehensive bail plan that outlines the proposed conditions and restrictions, including the specific location of residence, proposed curfew, and mechanisms for electronic monitoring and supervision. The court’s primary concern is to prevent any potential harm to the community while still upholding the individual’s right to liberty.

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Home Detention for Sentence

Home detention serves as an alternative to being imprisoned full-time. Essentially, the individual’s sentence is carried out at their own residence rather than in a correctional facility. If someone is sentenced to home confinement, they will be closely monitored and subject to electronic surveillance.


Electronic surveillance, often referred to as an “ankle monitor or ankle bracelet,” involves the person wearing a device that tracks their movements. It should be noted that this doesn’t mean they are confined to their home at all times. However, they must remain on the property unless they are engaged in activities that have been approved or arranged by a supervisor.


Home detention orders have a maximum duration of 18 months. This time frame includes any period that the court may require the individual to spend on parole.

Legal Advice

House arrest in NSW criminal law offers an innovative approach to sentencing, aiming to provide offenders with an opportunity for rehabilitation while ensuring public safety. Its applicability as a form of bail also reflects the evolving nature of the criminal justice system, where alternative sanctions are considered alongside traditional methods of detention.


The decision to impose house arrest, whether as a standalone sentence or as part of a bail arrangement, requires a thorough assessment of various factors, including the offender’s criminal history, the nature of the offence, and their suitability for complying with the imposed conditions. While house arrest offers a chance for individuals to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society, its effectiveness relies on the careful balance between punishment and rehabilitation, all while upholding the principles of justice and public safety.


If you have a family member in custody and need to legal advice regarding a bail application in NSW, contact our Sydney criminal lawyers at Lyons Law Group.

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