During the pendency of a criminal case, and while many defendants are on bond, they may be asked to wear a GPS tether to monitor their whereabouts. The most important thing is to establish the conditions that pretrial services expects from the person wearing the tether. It is equally as important that the person on the tether follows the rules or there could be violations of pretrial release. If there is a violation or multiple violations, the accused may have their bond raised or be forced to sit in jail in lieu of the tether.

We often find that the worst part of the tethers is waiting for the jails to get them on our clients when they are ordered. Typically the tether companies only have a certain time of day that they can get people set up. The requirements for a GPS tether can be confusing, but the experienced attorneys at Smith Lehman are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Common Tether Requirements

Sometimes there is an exclusion zone where someone who is accused cannot go. This will typically be by the place of work or a residence where the complainant lives. In other circumstances, the court may want defendants on a house arrest and the GPS tether is what ensures the person does not leave their home. If the defendant needs to meet with an attorney, seek medical attention, or otherwise attend appointments, and orders can be entered to allow the same. In some situations, people are still allowed to work and be out at certain times during the day.

After a long period of being on a tether, many times the courts will expand the rules about the tether and allow the person to have more freedom. We often fail motions to modify the terms of bond in this way. In many of our cases, the tether is removed while the person is placed on probation. Sometimes, judges like to continue the tether for a period of time to monitor the whereabouts of the defendant and make sure the person is still following any prior orders.

Potential Issues with Tethers

The major problem with tethers is the expense of the device and that it has to be kept charged to work. The tether companies charge weekly and it can become expensive, especially after months and months go by while waiting for a case to get to trial. This has been especially true during Covid when cases have taken unusually long.

In rare circumstances, the tether can irritate the skin or cause cuts and other rashes. In circumstances like these, we can file a motion to modify the terms of the tether and ask the judge to remove it. We have also had cases where the tethers did not work at the person’s place of employment because they were deep into a factory or building with no good signal out. When things like this happen we can always file a motion with the court to seek relief.

Discuss Tethers with a Dedicated Legal Professional

It is important that if you were ordered to be on a tether, you follow precisely what you were allowed to do. If you were allowed to drive to court, for example, that does not mean you can stop at the ATM on the way, get gas, or stop and get groceries. It is very important to be extra clear on what you are and are not allowed to do.

We find out the best way to avoid issues is to develop a good relationship and rapport with the pretrial services office so that we can call with any questions. If you have a tether concern or question, call our office today for more information.

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