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Fairfax jail- Virginia criminal lawyer on avoiding & handling detention

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Fairfax jail- Image handcuffs and key

Fairfax jail- Virginia criminal lawyer addresses avoiding incarceration & demystifies being locked up

Fairfax jail and all jails are the last place anyone wishes to be. Nonetheless, as a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that people arrested in this county are typically going to be booked into the jail even if to be released soon thereafter if the magistrate agrees with personal recognizance release or a bond that the arrestee or his or her friends and family are able to pay by cash or through a bail bondsperson. This blog entry is generally applicable to all Virginia jails, and specifically applies to Fairfax, which has one of the commonwealth’s largest criminal court case dockets.

Knowing the Fairfax jail is addressing the 2 ton gorilla in the room that needs to be sent on its way

Avoiding the Fairfax jail — as well as convictions and adverse sentences — is but one of the very reasons for fully defending yourself against jailable Virginia criminal charges. This starts with hiring a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the courthouse, and who knows how to minimize your incarceration risks. The Fairfax jail is physically connected to the county courthouse and reminds criminal defendants of the importance of staying out of that structure. I liken this and all threats to the “embrace tiger, return to mountain” move in the taijiquan martial arts practice, which to me means to face and know our fears, so that we may then neutralize them and send them on their way, far away.

A Fairfax arrest leads to a trip to the county jail

Too many Virginia criminal suspects try to please the police to try to avoid an arrest and to avoid not being released from jail. Some suspects out of desperation, confusion, insufficient information or uncertainty will waive their right to remain silent with police, waive their right to refuse searches and to refuse to assist with searches, and submit to DUI field sobriety tests that they have no obligation to perform. By waiving any of the foregoing rights, criminal defendants highly risk helping the prosecution build a stronger case against them. Watch the benefits of letting your lawyer advocate for you while you assert your above-detailed rights with police.

How do I avoid arrest and jail if I do not please the police?

Just as essential medicine can taste terrible and even cause lesser illness than the ailment it addresses, a Virginia criminal suspect may need to suffer an arrest and a visit to the jail (hopefully brief) if that is what it takes to decline to answer police questions, decline searches, and decline field sobriety tests. For at least some suspects, asserting the foregoing rights may deprive police of the probable cause that is required to arrest you in the first place.

What if the Virginia magistrate does not release me from detention with personal recognizance or a bond I can afford?

Virginia magistrates — who are not required to be lawyers nor to have attended law school — wield extraordinary power over criminal defendants, not only by deciding whether or not they get to be released on their arrest date (with or without the requirement to pay a bond or bail to be released), but also deciding whether the arrestee will be required to follow such pretrial release conditions as being monitored by a pretrial supervisor. A judge can reverse or dilute the sting  of the magistrate’s detention decision, but a criminal defendant suffers the magistrate’s ruling until the judge holds a bond hearing (which can sometimes take days after the arrest date), depending on the date of the arrest and the courthouse involved. If kept in the Fairfax jail by the magistrate after your arrest, your first court date will be your arraignment, which takes place every weekday in Fairfax, when the judge will decide whether to consider bond that day or only the next business day at the earliest, upon the timely filing of a bond hearing request. Having a lawyer present at your arraignment may enhance your chances of being released that day.

What are my Virginia pretrial release conditions?

Your pretrial release conditions are on your recognizance. Your initial recognizance is issued by the magistrate. If only a judge enables you to be released from jail, the judge’s recognizance will supersede the magistrate’s recognizance. The recognizance will state whether you may be released from jail pending your trial or felony preliminary hearing, whether you have to pay a bond to be released, whether you have an unsecured bond (an amount of money for which you are not responsible if not later found in violation of your pretrial release conditions), whether you will be supervised pretrial or have other special pretrial release conditions, and whether you may leave the commonwealth. Check with your lawyer if you wish to pursue ameliorating any of your pretrial release conditions.

Do I risk being returned to jail before my court date?

You risk being returned to jail before your court date if the court determines that you have violated the terms and conditions of your pretrial release, or if the judge authorizes an arrest warrant upon receiving a report that you have violated those terms and conditions. While awaiting your criminal case to resolve in court, it is best to be on your best behavior, and to avoid associating with people engaged in crime, lest you be dragnetted in an arrest or prosecution with them.

What if I get convicted and am jailed?

Talk to your Virginia criminal defense lawyer about your active incarceration exposure in the event of getting convicted. If you receive active jail time in Virginia District Court, you may avoid jail but for a few hours that day by informing the judge that you are going to appeal your conviction to the Circuit Court, and asking to keep the bond the same, or in the alternative to set a small appeal bond. If you got released on bond subsequent to your arrest and the paying party was not you, consider — ideally before the trial date — seeking and obtaining the signed written permission of the paying party (whether an individual or bail bond company) to authorize using the bail payment for your appeal bond, and having the person ready to verify the same by phone.

How long can I delay my active Fairfax jail time if I appeal from a District Court misdemeanor conviction?

So long as you request a jury trial on appeal from a Fairfax District Court misdemeanor conviction, your jury trial date is not likely to be before spring 2022. You are free to proceed with your appeal or else to withdraw your appeal (timely and correctly) at least one business day before your Circuit Court trial. By the time of your jury trial date on appeal, the prosecutor may feel the weight of the Covid-19 trial scheduling bottleneck to offer you a better case settlement negotiation, at least if the prosecutor is prosecuting your kind of case. It is ideal to have a qualified lawyer help you navigate and defend during the Virginia criminal appellate process.

Are deferred incarceration, weekends, home detention and work release available?

A judge is free to grant a deferred start date for jail. If the judge does not grant such a request for a Virginia District Court case, the defendant is free to appeal and to seek release pending appeal, but be careful about whether appealing removes any double jeopardy or plea negotiations rights you otherwise have; talk with your lawyer about that. During the pandemic, do not expect to be granted the opportunity to engage in weekend detention nor work release, in order to minimize the spread of germs into the jail.  Home detention should still be available, and benefits jails by reducing the inmate population that might spread the coronavirus.

What items may I bring with me to the jail? How does commissary work?

Check in advance with your lawyer or the jail about what personal items you may bring to the jail, requirements for your prescription medicines, and handling religious requirements, dietary and health needs and commissary. The Fairfax jail and other jails generally permit wearing five white cotton underwear briefs into the jail, including a pair of white cotton socks, a white cotton undershirt, and a white or off white long-john long sleeve undershirt. It is good to bring a sufficient supply of your prescription medicine with the prescription label thereon. Check with the jail chaplain about meeting your religious needs, including if your religion requires a head covering. If your religious book(s) are not immediately available at the jail, you can check with the chaplain about having the books delivered directly to the chaplain through such a company as Amazon. Dietary needs are likely only to be accommodated for purposes of basic health and religious needs; vegetarianism with no religious connection does not assure jail accommodation. Find out the jail’s commissary and phone account procedures to make sure you have the funds for both and are meeting commissary ordering deadlines.

What will be my access to the outside world while I am at the jail? When will I be released from jail?

During Covid-19, expect that oral communications with family and friends will only be by phone and/or Zoom-type communications. Each jail will decide the extent to which lawyers may visit jail inmates in person, but expect plexiglass to separate inmates from their lawyer visitors.

Each Virginia jail has its release procedures, including the time of day you will be released. The Fairfax jail typically releases inmates at 8:00 a.m. through the sally port of the jail’s bottom floor that is accessible to the public.

Most important is to stay out of jail in the first place. Hire the right lawyer for you to fight any Virginia prosecution.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person confidential consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.