Should GPS ankle monitors count toward time behind bars?


To many victims, their families and the public, it’s frustrating. Criminals can ask for their time behind bars to be reduced, credited for wearing a GPS ankle monitor pre-conviction and/or sentencing.

Right now, we’re seeing it in the case of Christie Noriega. The Sandoval County woman drove drunk with her toddler in the car and hit and killed two young men changing a tire on the side of the I-25.

Through her attorney, she’s requested that the 176 days she had to wear an ankle monitor pre-conviction should count toward her jail sentence. During that time, she was allowed to freely roam three New Mexico counties. 

A judge has yet to rule on the motion.

There’s also the high-profile case of Justin Hansen, who beat a teen with a shovel back in 2008, nearly killing her.

Hansen’s public defender requested that more than a year be shaved of his incarceration for being on house arrest before sentencing. You’ll recall, Hansen received permission from the courts to attend an Isotopes baseball game, wearing his ankle monitor, during that time.

A judge denied the motion for less prison time, but Hansen’s attorney has filed an appeal.

These kinds of motions anger some people, which District Attorney Dianna Luce can understand.

“That is kind of offensive to people who feel like, ‘Well, what about the victims?'” she said, speaking on behalf of the New Mexico District Attorney Association.

Luce says case law has determined that house arrest is considered ‘confinement’ and should count toward time behind bars. GPS monitoring only, however, does not count.

She says these requests aren’t new, but they’re becoming more common.

“We are using GPS more frequently in our state for a condition of release, and so I think that we’re probably going to see more of these motions,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ousama Rasheed, a local attorney speaking on behalf of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, says there’s a growing gray area here.

“The lawyers are testing what level of restriction would qualify as custody,” he said.

He points to all the newer technology to keep tabs on defendants.

“I think that’s where some of this is coming fromโ€”that prior case law wouldn’t have had the opportunity to address all of the technology that’s currently available to the law and the courts,” Rasheed said.

Both Rasheed and Luce agree that there’s a good possibility that case law and the definition of confinement could change as more of these motions are filed.

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