Client FAQs About Jail
These are some of the most frequently asked question by clients who are facing potential jail time. All of these questions and answers pertain to the Rappahannock Regional Jail (our local jail for Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and King George) in Fredericksburg, VA. To find out specific answers for your case, call me today.
If I go to Jail on my Court Date, Does That Count as Day One?
No. The jail doesn’t count the day you go in, but they release you about 8am, and that day DOES count.
For example, let’s say you get sentenced to two days of jail on a Friday. You go to jail at trial. Saturday would count as day one. Sunday would count as day two, and you’d be released about 7am. You’d spend less than 48 hours in jail.
What is delayed jail reporting, and how can I get it?
If you’re facing possible jail in Virginia, the judge has the authority to confine you to jail but order you to report directly to the jail some time after you’re actually found guilty of the offense. This is called delayed reporting.
Virginia law lets you appeal your case within ten days of being found guilty, and you can withdraw your appeal within that same ten days without any repercussions. Because of that process, the judges in Virginia, at least around Fredericksburg, are typically very reasonable with official delayed reporting. They know that if they don’t authorize delayed reporting for a few days after court that we can just appeal the case, which creates more paperwork for the clerk’s office. This is why delayed reporting is fairly routine, at least to delay your jail a few days.
The normal reason we get delayed reporting is because you don’t know for sure a lot of times how much jail you might be getting on your court date. It’s hard to get things arranged with work or childcare if you don’t know the exact amount of days that you’ll need to serve. Delayed reporting lets you go to court, get sentenced to whatever jail you’re going to have to serve, and then you can go home and arrange your work and childcare.
If you get delayed reporting, the judge is going to tell you to report directly to the Rappahannock Regional Jail on a certain date before a certain time. There’s many important requirements to fill, but the main ones are that you cannot be late no matter what. If you are late, even by one minute, any suspended sentence could become active by default.
You also cannot show up with any alcohol or non-prescription drugs in your system for delayed reporting. Or else any suspended sentence could become active. Typically, the clerk’s office will tell you to bring your delayed reporting order with you when you go into jail so the jail knows exactly who you are and what you’re there for.
What can I bring with me to jail?
If you have to go to jail to serve a few days, you may be wondering if you can bring something with you like a book or personal items. Unfortunately, you can’t bring anything other than the clothes on your back and any prescription medications that you may need.
How do I get my prescription medication in jail?
The Rappahannock Regional Jail does have a medical unit and if you have enough medical problems, you may just be assigned to the medical unit upon your arrival at the jail. However, most people will not be. If you just have some routine medications, the jail can administer those to you through the medical unit.
You might need to bring those medications with you. They must be in an actual prescription bottle with a valid prescription in your name printed on it. The prescription cannot be expired.
I always advise taking the added step of removing the excess medication from the bottle simply due to the risk that it could be lost. Bring a few extra in case they’re lost or dropped or something, but don’t bring tons of extra medication.
The jail will require that you pay a small daily fee for administering your prescriptions to you, but if you need them it’s well worth a few dollars.
What can I wear to jail?
If you wear white undergarments underneath your street clothes when you go to jail, the jail will let you keep those white undergarments. That’s all you can keep.
The jail can be quite cold, especially in the winter, so we usually recommend that you wear a couple layers of white undergarments. Think about some white underwear, some white long johns, maybe a white T-shirt, and some white socks. You might even want to double up on some socks and underwear if you’re going to be there more than a day or two. You’ll be allowed to keep those items, but you do have to be wearing them when you go into jail.
Can I Wear my Wedding Ring in Jail?
Maybe. If your ring is a plain metal band, you’re allowed to wear it. But if it has any stones, grooves, or design on it, you have to take it off.
Can I get work release if I’m sentenced to jail?
It depends. Work release is a great program that lets you essentially stay at the jail at night and get out during the day to go to work. You would basically be going directly to work during the day and back to jail in the evening and the jail turns almost more into a dormitory at this scenario.
However, work release is not available for every case. There’s a very strict set of requirements for the type of case you have and for the amount of jail time you’ve been given in order to qualify for work release. Also, there are requirements about you and your criminal history that can disqualify you for work release. Finally, your employer has to be willing to cooperate. It’s not something that you can keep hidden from your employer. Even though you’re out on work release, you are an inmate with the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
Work release can be a good program, but not every case can qualify. It’s definitely something to talk with your attorney about to see if it might fit your needs so you can keep working even if you have to do a little jail time.
Can I serve my jail time on the weekends?
I get this question a lot from clients and potential clients who are facing mandatory jail time (such as for an DUI with a blood alcohol of .15 or higher, or for a driving on suspended third offense).
Instead of having to serve jail time consecutively, some people want to serve it on the weekends so they can continue working. It’s a great opportunity when we can get it.
Unfortunately, weekend jail time (or non-consecutive time) is hard to come by. There are two problems with getting weekends:
1. The Rappahannock Regional Jail only has limited capacity for weekend inmates. The way I understand it, weekenders require extra staff to process in and out, and it puts a strain on the jail. Thus, when the program fills up, the judge simply can’t send any more people in for weekends.
2. The judge has to allow you to serve weekend time. Even aside from the jail capacity, if the judge doesn’t want you to serve weekends, you won’t. The default rule is that you serve jail time consecutively, starting whenever you’re sentenced (the day of trial usually). And that’s what most judges favor. It’s usually an uphill battle to get the judge to allow weekend time.
With all that said, you should definitely talk to your attorney about weekend jail time if you’re interested in that possibility. It’s not the ordinary procedure, but it can be allowed in some cases.
Do I have to go to jail on the day of my trial?
No. The default rule in Virginia is that if you are sentenced to jail time at trial you are remanded to the custody of the sheriff to serve that jail immediately. However, we have other options.
In many cases we can ask the judge for delayed reporting. That sets a day and time when you must turn yourself in to the local jail. That gives you the ability to go home after trial and get your affairs in order. Typically you would have to report in about a week or two weeks from your trial date. We can buy you some time that way, but not a lot of time.
The other problem with delayed reporting is that the judge has to approve it and not in every case will the judge give you that option. It just depends on the facts and circumstances of your case and the local judge.
The other option to delay going to jail is your right under Virginia law: appealing the case.
In every case in Virginia when you’re charged with a misdemeanor your first trial is in the General District Court. No matter what happens in the General District Court you have the absolute right to appeal the case within ten calendar days to have a new trial in Circuit court. This can be a great tool to make it where you can come back later to serve your jail time.
If we need to appeal to serve your jail time later, we simply appeal at trial, and then you’re able to go home. That pauses the judge’s outcome and any pending jail sentence. Then you’re able to go home, get your affairs in order, get your work arranged, and come back whenever you’re ready to serve that time. When you’re ready you withdraw your appeal and that reinstates the judge’s earlier decision.
Two important considerations for the appeal: first of all, you don’t have unlimited time. Usually an appeal can buy you a month to two months depending on the circumstances of the case. Second, if you need longer than ten days doing the appeal route will cost you a little bit more money in court costs. Usually it adds on about $100 to your overall total but that can be well worth it if this means the difference between losing your job and keeping your job.
As you can see, you normally have to go to jail directly after trial but we do have options that we can use so you can get your affairs in order before you have to serve any jail time in Virginia. Of course, these examples apply to the General District Court level (if you’re charged with a misdemeanor).
Get answers for your case
If you’re charged with a jailable offense in Virginia, you need more help than answers on the internet. Contact me today to discuss the details of your case, what defenses you might have, and how I can help.
photo credit: Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com)