Virginia Criminal Law: Work Release Programs

Many people who are facing criminal charges have good jobs, and they do not want to lose those jobs. Not all jobs are eligible for work release programs, but some inmates may be able to maintain their job while they are incarcerated.

Cities and counties throughout Virginia have different rules for their work release programs. It is important to understand your local rules regarding work release before entering into any kind of plea agreement.

This article will be discussing the rules governing the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center near Winchester, Virginia, but many jails have similar rules.

What is a Work Release Program?

A work release program is a program that is instituted by a local jail pursuant to Virginia Code §53.1-131. Program coordinators work together with local businesses to allow inmates in their jail to keep a job while they are incarcerated.

If you are eligible for work release, the jail can allow you to leave the jail during your normal work hours and continue to make a living. The money that you obtain while you are in the work release program will be paid to the jail. The jail will then either use those funds to pay child support orders you may have, or disburse them for your use while in jail.

Are You Eligible for Work Release?

As previously stated, each jail is different. However, in order to be eligible for work release at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You cannot have any other outstanding charges or a detainer from another state;

  2. Your sentence must be less than twelve (12) months;

  3. You cannot have any escape attempts, violent crimes, or felonious assault on your record in the last five (5) years;

  4. No sexual offenses;

  5. No active protective orders; and,

  6. No failure to appear or capias charges in the last five (5) years.

The reason for these requirements is that the jail has to be sure that you will not engage in any harmful activities while you are at your work site.

Your local jail may have additional requirements for eligibility.

How Do You Request Work Release?

Work release programs are managed by the jail. A judge is not the person you have to ask for permission to be put on work release. There are several documents that must be submitted to your holding facility prior to your incarceration date. For the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, you must complete and submit all those documents at least five (5) days prior to your incarceration date.

If you would like to be considered for work release, discuss that with your lawyer prior to your trial date or delayed sentencing date. Additionally, once you have spoken with your lawyer, the lawyer may advise that you contact the jail.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

It is important to have a lawyer during any criminal case because jail time can have a lasting impact on your employability and future. Even a jail sentence of five (5) days can harm your future. Therefore, it is important to make sure you take every step you can to get the best outcome possible. Depending on the facts of your case, that strategy may include work release. Work with your lawyer to determine what strategy is best for your specific case.