Our Mission

The City of Winchester Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with elected leaders, staff and citizens, as part of public safety, will provide security at the Joint Judicial Center, serve all court process, provide timely transport for prisoners and patients, and uphold the principles and values embodied in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our primary responsibility is securing the Joint Judicial Center and serving civil process. The Sheriff's Office holds concurrent law enforcement jurisdiction with local police departments and stands ready to assist the police in their primary duties whenever and wherever needed.

We will provide quality service through motivated, dedicated and well-trained personnel. Our actions, attitudes and appearance will demonstrate self-discipline, attention to duty and service to our community.

We provide the highest levels of professional, effective and efficient services to the public and are firmly committed to the principles of community involvement through problem-solving partnerships, state of the art security equipment, and law enforcement equipment and techniques.

General Orders

In maintaining a healthy public relationship through transparency, the Winchester City Sheriff's Office General Orders are posted below.

There are currently 64 General Orders covering an array of assignments, directives, and duties. The Sheriff frequently updates General Orders to assure that Professional Law Enforcement Trends and Standards are current. The General Orders listed below are current with previous changes and associated dates listed on the first page of each general order.

Jury Duty

Jury Status

Jury trials are sometimes canceled on the eve of their scheduled date (after 5:00 pm and on weekends). Call the Jury Line at (540) 722-1064 the night prior to the trial if it has not already been canceled. The recording is updated at the moment a change or cancelation is made.

Jury Duty FAQs

How was I chosen for Jury Service?

In May of each year, the Supreme Court of Virginia, Office of Management Information Systems, sends out jury questionnaires to 5,000 prospective jurors in the City of Winchester. This list is generated from Voter Registration and DMV Records of Citizens who reside in the City of Winchester. These questionnaires are returned to the Circuit Court Clerk for the City of Winchester.

On July 1 of each year, three (3) Jury Commissioners who are appointed by the presiding Judge of the Circuit Court review the returned questionnaires. The presiding Judge decides the number of potential jurors to chose from for the year, this number is 1,200 at the present time. The Jury Commissioners must return the list of potential jurors to the Clerk of the Circuit Court by December 15.

The list of potential jurors is then sent to the Management Information Systems Office for the City of Winchester. This Office then places the names on a computer diskette, which contains a program to further randomize the list. The computer diskette is then sent back to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The Clerk then places the information from the diskette into the courts computer system. Each term of the Circuit Court, the judge pushes a button on the computer, which causes the computer to select 105 potential jurors for each term of court. During high profile court cases, more names may be selected.

Each year 80 Grand Jurors are selected for service using the same system as discussed above.

Men and women over the age of 18 years and from all walks of life have an equal opportunity to be called for jury service.

Do I have to respond to the summons to jury service?

Yes! The summons to jury service is an official court summons. If you do not respond, you could be held in contempt of court.

What if I can't perform jury service right now?

Your term of jury service might disturb your regular pattern of work and other activities. If this disruption causes you genuine hardship and not just inconvenience, it may be possible for you to defer your service to another time. However, this is done only in cases of genuine hardship or need. The judge decides whether your jury service can be deferred. If you feel that you cannot perform your jury service, call the number listed on your summons to discuss your situation.

You will not be excused because jury service is inconvenient or because you have a busy schedule, but you may be excused for reasons such as physical ailment. If you have special conflicts on particular days during the term, the court may excuse you on those days.

What about my job?

Your employer can not fine, demote or otherwise penalize you for missing work while performing jury service. Many employers will continue to pay your salary while you are in jury service. Contact your employer to find out what the policy is at your job.

Will I be reimbursed for serving on a jury?

You will be reimbursed $30 per day for attendance for each day you must report to the courthouse. The Virginia General Assembly sets this amount.

How long will I be in jury service?

Jurors serve one term of court. Depending on where you live, your term may be up to four (4) months. Your summons will indicate the length and exact dates of the term you will serve.

What if an unexpected emergency keeps me from coming to the courthouse while I'm on a jury?

It is very important that all jurors report each day they are told to report and that they be on time. Your absence may delay a trial. If you have an emergency (such as sudden illness or death in the family), call the number on your summons immediately.

How will I know what to expect and what to do during my jury service?

You will go through an orientation program the first time you are required to report for jury duty. The orientation will inform you of the procedures for checking in on days you must report to the courthouse, how to find out when to report, what the court's hours are, and what to do if you have an emergency during jury service. Additionally, you will learn about your role as a juror and what you should and should not do while in the courthouse or serving on jury duty.

I have heard that sometimes jurors are not allowed to go home until after the trial is over. Will this happen to me?

Usually, jurors go home at the end of each day and return the next morning. However, in extremely rare cases, a jury will be "sequestered" during the trial or during the jury deliberations. Sequestered means that instead of going home at the end of the day, jurors stay in hotels, where their access to other people, radio news, television news, and newspapers is limited. This is done to keep them from accidentally hearing something about the trial that was not told in court or from being influenced by news reports. This is important because juries must reach their decisions based only on what they've heard during the trial. In almost all Virginia jury trials, however, the jury goes home at the end of each day and is simply told by the judge not to discuss the case with anyone, nor to watch, read or listen to news reports about the case. It is essential that you follow these instructions.

Is there anything I can do to make my jury service more comfortable, convenient and enjoyable?

Certainly! While efforts are made to reduce delay and avoid waiting time, you may have to wait a while at the courthouse before you find out whether you have been chosen to actually sit on a jury (the reasons why are explained in the next section). So bring a book, or some other quiet activity, or get to know your fellow jurors. Remember that as a juror, you are a vital part of the court system. Part of the job of many court employees, such as the bailiffs and the clerks, is to help make your jury service comfortable and convenient. Do not be afraid to ask them for help.

Is it possible that I might report for jury service but not sit on a jury?

Yes. The parties involved in a case generally seek to settle their differences and avoid the expense and time of a trial. Sometimes the case is settled just a few moments before the trial begins. So even though several trials are scheduled for a certain day, the court does not know until that morning how many will actually go to trial. But your time spent waiting is not wasted -- your very presence in the court encourages settlement.

How are jurors chosen to sit on a jury in a civil case?

When a trial is ready to begin, the bailiff calls potential jurors into the courtroom. If damages of less than $15,000 are claimed in the case, 11 jurors will be called. If damages of more than $15,000 are claimed, 13 jurors will be called. The clerk or bailiff asks potential jurors to stand, hold up their right hand, and swear or affirm that they will truthfully answer the questions about to be asked of them. The judge will then tell you the names of the parties and their attorneys and briefly explain the nature of the case. The judge will ask if you are related to anyone involved in the case, have any financial or other interest in the outcome of the case, have formed or expressed an opinion or have any personal bias or prejudice that might affect how you decide the case. If you do not think you can make a fair and impartial decision for any reason, you should tell the judge at this time.

The attorneys for each side might also ask you some questions. If the judge concludes that you may not be able to make a fair decision, you will be asked to step down, and another prospective juror will be brought in to replace you. After the judge decides that all potential jurors are qualified to fairly and impartially hear the case, the clerk will compile a list of jurors and give it to the attorneys. Each side will remove three names from the list. They do not have to give a reason for removing these names. If the amount claimed is under $15,000, the final jury will have five (5) members. If the claim is more than $15,000, the jury will have seven (7) members. The remaining jurors then swear or affirm that they will hear the case and give a verdict they believe to be true. The trial is ready to begin.

Why are some jurors removed from the list?

Allowing both sides to participate in selecting the jury gives the parties the opportunity to feel that the jury will be fair and impartial when it decides the case. Being excused from a jury in no way reflects on your character or your competence as a juror, so you should not feel offended or embarrassed if your name is removed.

How are juries chosen in a criminal case?

The procedure for criminal cases is very similar to the procedure for civil cases. However, 20 prospective jurors are called for a felony trial, and the final jury will have 12 members. For a misdemeanor case, the final jury will have seven members. (The difference between felony and a misdemeanor case is described in the next section.)

What are alternate jurors?

Sometimes, when the judge believes that a case is likely to last more than a day or two, additional jurors will be chosen from those summoned for jury duty, questioned and challenged like other prospective jurors. The additional jurors are chosen to avoid having to retry the case should one or more jurors be excused from the jury during the trial for an emergency (such as illness), leaving too few jurors to decide the case. Throughout the trial, all jurors will sit together, paying careful attention to all the evidence. After closing argument and before the jury retires to the jury room to decide the case, the judge will excuse from further jury duty enough jurors to reduce the number of jurors to the statutory number needed to decide the case.

What are my responsibilities now that I'm part of a jury?

In any trial, two kinds of questions will have to be decided at various times. These are questions of law and questions of fact. The judge decides the questions of law. You decide the questions of fact. After you have decided the questions of fact, you will apply the law to the facts as directed by the judge at the end of the trial.

What is a "question of law"?

Questions of law involve the determination of what the law is. They may be about procedural matters (what information can be admitted as evidence, what kind of questions can be asked, which witnesses can appear, and what can they testify about). Or they may involve questions of substantive law, which create, define and regulate the rights of parties.

What is a "question of fact"?

Quite simply, it is deciding what really happened in a case. Do not be surprised if the evidence given by both sides is conflicting or if the testimony given by one witness contradicts another. After all, if everyone was in agreement about what happened and what should be done about it, the dispute probably would not be in court, and a jury probably would not be needed. Your job is to listen to all the testimony, consider all the evidence, and decide what you think really happened.

Who else will be in the courtroom? What will they be doing?

A number of people will be in the courtroom besides the judge, the jury and attorneys. The list below explains who they are and what they will be doing.

Plaintiff (civil case): In a civil case, the person who brought the case to court is called the plaintiff.

Defendant (civil case)-: The person being sued in a civil case is called the defendant.

Defendant (criminal case): A person who has been charged with a crime is the defendant in a criminal case.

Attorneys or council: Attorneys representing the plaintiff, defendant or the government in a criminal case are also referred to as counsel. Depending on who they represent and what court you are in, you may hear them called "council for the plaintiff", "plaintiff's attorney", "counsel for the defendant", or "defense attorney". An attorney representing the government in a criminal case is called the prosecuting or Commonwealth's attorney.

Court Reporter: The court reporter keeps the official record by recording every word spoken during the trial.

Bailiff: The bailiff keeps order, maintains the security of the court and helps the judge and the jury as needed.

Clerk of Court: The clerk of court, also called the clerk, maintains the court files and preserves the evidence presented during the trial. The clerk may also administer the oaths to jurors and witnesses.

Witnesses: Each side in a trial will probably have a number of witnesses who have information about the dispute. Very often the judge will ask them to wait outside the courtroom until it is their turn to testify. This is done so they will not hear each other's testimony and be influenced by it.

What happens during a civil trial?

After the clerk or bailiff has sworn in the jury, the case is ready to begin. Both attorneys may make opening statements explaining their client's position and outlining the evidence they expect to present that will support their claims. These statements are not evidence and should not be considered as such. The witnesses for the plaintiff are then called and questioned by the attorney for the plaintiff and cross-examined by the attorney for the defendant. After cross-examination, the plaintiff's attorney may reexamine some of the witnesses. After all the plaintiff's witnesses have been called and all the plaintiff's evidence has been presented, the attorney will tell the judge that the plaintiff rests.

Witnesses for the defendant may then be called. This time, the defendant's attorney questions the witnesses and the plaintiff's attorney cross-examines them. When all the defendant's witnesses and evidence have been presented, the defense will rest. After the defendant has finished, the plaintiff has the right to offer testimony in reply.

The judge and the attorneys will then go to the judge's chambers to consider the instructions the judge will give the jurors about the law of the case (this is discussed below). After the judge has decided on the instructions, the judge and the attorneys will return to the courtroom. The judge reads the jury instructions to the jury, and then the attorneys make their closing arguments. The closing arguments let each attorney tell the jury what they think the evidence proves and why their client should win. These closing arguments may help jurors recall many details of the case, but they are not evidence. The plaintiff's attorney speaks first, followed by the defendant's attorney. Finally, the plaintiff's attorney speaks again and closes the case.

What are Jury Instructions?

Jury instructions tell the jury what the laws are that govern a particular case. Each attorney gives the judge a set of proposed jury instructions. The judge considers each instruction and gives the one that properly states the law that applies to the case. The jurors must accept and follow the law as instructed by the judge, even though they may have a different idea about what the law is or ought to be.

Who awards damages in a civil case?

In a civil case, the jury not only decides on a verdict for one side or the other, but also awards damages. That is, if the jury determines that an award of money should be made, the jury decides how much money should be paid.

How are criminal cases tried?

Criminal cases are very similar to civil cases, except instead of a plaintiff, there is a prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney may represent either the Commonwealth (the state) or a city, county or town.

What are the two types of criminal cases?

There are two kinds of criminal cases: Felonies and Misdemeanors. A felony offense is one that can be punished by death or by a prison sentence of a year or more. If the felony offense is one that can be punished by death, it is called a capital offense. If the maximum punishment allowed by law is less than one year in confinement or only a fine, the offense is called a misdemeanor.

Who sets the punishment in a criminal case?

If the jury finds the defendant guilty in a criminal case, they set the punishment at the same time they decide the verdict. After a guilty verdict in a capital case, however, the jury will hear evidence in a separate proceeding before deciding on the penalty.

Why do the attorneys object to certain statements or evidence?

An important part of an attorney's job is to protect the client's rights during a trial. This includes making sure that the only evidence presented during the trial is evidence that is proper, relevant and allowed by law. So if evidence is submitted that the attorney feels is improper, or if the attorney feels that the other side is asking questions that are unlawful, the attorney will call out, "Objection!" By doing this, the attorney is asking the judge to rule on whether the law allows that particular piece of evidence or statement or question to be admitted. If the judge thinks it should be admitted, the judge will say, "Objection Overruled" or just "Overruled". If the judge agrees that the evidence in question is improper, the judge will say, "Objection Sustained". How often an attorney raises objections during the trial should not bias you against that attorney's case.

Why is the jury sometimes asked to leave the courtroom in the middle of a trial?

The judge may decide to send the jury from the courtroom in the middle of a trial. While the jury is gone, the attorneys and the judge will discuss points of law or whether certain evidence can be admitted. The purpose of these discussions is to make sure that the jury hears only the evidence that is legally valid before making its decision. You will be called back to the courtroom when the judge's decision is made.

What should I do when testimony is stricken from the record?

You must disregard that testimony. Sometimes the jury hears testimony that the judge later decides it should not have heard. The judge will tell the jury to consider the case as if it had never heard it. You must follow the judge's instructions if the parties in the case are to receive a fair trial.

Can I talk to anyone about the trial while it is going on?

No. As long as the trial is still going on, do not discuss the trial with anyone. Do not even discuss the case with your fellow jurors until you begin your deliberations. When the trial is over, you can discuss it with anyone if you want to, or you may keep silent if you prefer.

Can I watch news reports of the trial or read newspaper accounts of it?

No, not as long as the trial is still going on.

What if I accidentally hear something about the trial outside the courtroom, or if someone contacts me about the trial while it is still going on, or if I realize during the trial that I have some special information that relates to the case?

Ask the bailiff to tell the judge immediately what has happened. Tell no one about the incident, except the bailiff or the judge.

What if I need a break during the trial?

Jurors are given lunch breaks and may be given other breaks during a trial. If it is absolutely necessary that you take a break for some other reason at any time during the trial, tell the bailiff or the judge. But note that these requests are highly unusual and should be made only if absolutely necessary.

What happens after the closing arguments?

After the judge gives you your instructions and you hear the attorneys' closing arguments, you leave the courtroom and go to the jury room to begin your deliberations. "Deliberation" is the process the jury uses to reach its verdict. During deliberations, the jury will discuss evidence and review law and facts.

Will anyone be in the jury room besides the jury?

No. But if you have any questions or need any help, the bailiff will be nearby.

What is the first thing we do?

The first thing you should do is elect one member of the jury to preside over the deliberations, seeing that everyone has an opportunity to participate and that the discussions remain orderly. The person chosen to preside takes part in the deliberations and votes on the verdict along with everyone else.

What if we do not understand the jury instructions?

You may take written copies of the jury instructions to the jury room with you. If you do not understand the instructions, you may ask the judge to explain them to you. It is usually best to put your questions in writing and ask the bailiff to give them to the judge, since the judge will discuss the questions with the attorneys before answering them.

How should we conduct our deliberations?

Each juror may have a different opinion at the start of deliberations. To reach a decision, some jurors may have to change their opinion. You should keep an open mind; listen carefully to other people's opinions, and the reasons for their opinions. You should be prepared to tell the other jurors what you think and why you think it. Be fair and carefully consider what your fellow jurors are saying. Do not let yourself be intimidated into changing your opinion, and do not intimidate anyone else. Change your opinion only if you genuinely agree with what another juror is saying. After a full discussion of the issues, the jury should be able to reach a decision that each juror can agree to with a clear conscience.

Do we all have to agree?

Yes. Every juror must agree on the verdict. This is known as a unanimous verdict.

What should we do after we have reached our verdict?

The person chosen to preside will write down the jury's verdict on a form prepared by the judge, sign it, and notify the bailiff that a verdict has been reached. The bailiff will notify the judge, who will call everyone, including the jury, back to the courtroom. The clerk or judge will ask for the jury's verdict and read it out loud. The judge will then ask the attorneys if they wish to have the jury polled. "Polling a jury", means that the clerk will ask each juror individually if this is their verdict, and each juror must answer out loud. After the verdict and decision on award or punishment is announced, the judge will dismiss the jury.



Forms and Fingerprints


Fingerprints for pre-hiring processes can be done Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, Thursdays are usually the best day. Please call ahead to avoid delays during your visit.

Project Lifesaver

Bringing Loved Ones Home

 Do you have a family member or loved one with autism or Alzheimer’s? Do you have a fear of them wandering off? Do you live in the City of Winchester, VA?

If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, The Winchester City Sheriff’s Office can offer you and your family a sense of security and peace of mind through a community-based, public safety, non-profit organization that quickly locates individuals with special needs and/or cognitive conditions.

The Winchester City Sheriff’s Office is a Project Lifesaver Program member agency. This program is our area’s first step in protecting individuals with special needs and/or cognitive conditions who may wander.

How does the Project Lifesaver Program work?

Each citizen that is enrolled in the program will be outfitted with a radio frequency transmitter that must be worn on the wrist or ankle at all times. The transmitter emits an individual frequency signal that is assigned to the citizen (client).

If the client goes missing, their caregiver would notify The Winchester City Sheriff’s Office, and one or more of our trained and certified Electronic Search Specialists will respond to the client’s last known location. By using specialized receivers, our specialists will identify the signal and help locate the client. Our search time can be reduced by 95% if your family member or loved one is enrolled in our Project Lifesaver Program.

If you want to enroll a family member or loved one today, please contact our office at 540-667-5770. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Deputy Victoria Kalisz or Deputy Andrea Lutz.

Project Lifesaver Contract(PDF, 575KB)

Annual Statistics and Activities

Annual Statistics

Service/Action 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
 Days that security was provided at the JJC  234 242 242 249 246
Pedestrian traffic through screening stations 373,753 346,437 329,991 303,353 373,346
Civic papers served 6,384 6,990 6,985 7,928 12,633
Evictions 129 132 57 102 267
Fingerprints 130 164 57 108 79
Temporary Detention Orders Handled 52 54 51 68 69
Prisoner Transports 250 283 221 95 201
 Extraditions 52 68 58 60 83
 Jury Summons Served 823 1,143 686 1,008 1,523
 Prisoners Held for Court Proceedings 4,458 4,274 2,552 3,090 4,486
 Arrests 14 10 22 115 37
 Cases Initiated 0 0 5 23 40

2021 Civic Engagement Assistance

This year was different for the Winchester City Sheriff's Office as well as everyone due to COVID-19. Many events were canceled due to the pandemic. Although the impact has been wide spread, the Joint Judicial Center has remained open every day and continues to serve the citizens of Winchester and Frederick County. As analysis and data on COVID-19 became more understood over the last year, screening procedures were updated to reflect the severity of the virus and maintain a high level of safety for those entering the JJC. Screening questions are asked prior to entry along with a temperature scan. All patrons of the JJC are required to wear mask. Mask are provided to patrons that do not have one. There are now several hand sanitizer stations available at the doors and throughout the courthouse for public use. Courtrooms and guiding procedures have been put into place so those attending court can social distance. The Winchester City Sheriff's Office continues to update procedures, thus keeping a safe environment for those visiting the Joint Judicial Center.

2020 Civic Engagement and Assistance

  • Assisted with the TRIAD/S.A.L.T. Council (Top of Virginia Triad)
  • Held Shop with a Sheriff
  • Attended Crisis Intervention Training
  • Participated in the Drug Take Back annual program
  • Assisted with Kiwanis Pancake Day

2019 Civic Engagement and Assistance

  • Chaired our local TRIAD/S.A.L.T. Council (Top of Virginia Triad)
  • Attended “Trunk or Treat” event
  • Held "Shop with a Sheriff" and "Read with a Sheriff" at Handley Library events
  • Attended the South End Citizens Group, North End Citizens Group, and Woodland Ave Group meetings 
  • Attended National Night Out
  • Held Crisis Intervention Training
  • Read books at Winchester Day Preschool
  • Provided the Winchester City Sheriff’s Office Youth Club
  • Participated in the Drug Take Back annual program
  • Assisted with Kiwanis Pancake Day and the Valley Health Safety Fair
  • Held "Cops and Bobbers" event
  • Published two children's books: "Deputy Knowles Knows" and "Deputy Knowles Makes a Difference" (topic: bullying)

2018 Civic Engagement and Assistance

  • Attended the South End Citizens Group, North End Citizens Group, and Woodland Ave Group meetings 
  • Attended National Night Out
  • Held Crisis Intervention Training
  • Read books at Winchester Day Preschool
  • Held "Cops and Bobbers" event
  • Held "Shop with a Sheriff" and "Read with a Sheriff" at Handley Library events
  • Headed up the Running Strong program

2017 Civic Engagement and Assistance

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  • Attended the South End Citizens Group, North End Citizens Group, and Woodland Ave Group meetings 
  • Attended National Night Out
  • Held Crisis Intervention Training
  • Read books at Winchester Day Preschool
  • Held "Cops and Bobbers" event
  • Held "Shop with a Sheriff" and "Read with a Sheriff" at Handley Library events
  • Headed up the Running Strong program
  • Started a new program called "Cops and Bobbers".  This program incorporates teaching children about our water ways and taking them fishing.

Evictions Process

The following information is not to be considered legal advice. 

General Information

The material provided here is meant only as an example and a general overview of the eviction process. This information shall not be considered legal advice. Each situation is different and no one explanation can cover every situation. For specific information please consult the Code of Virginia, or for legal advice please consult an attorney.

2021 Landlord/Tenant Handbook  Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Tenant and Landlord Site

Eviction Process

It is recommended that owners of rental property obtain a copy of the applicable law (Code of Virginia 55-248.2 55-248.40) The Code of Virginia (COV) is available in libraries and on the internet and is updated each July 1. Seek the advice of an attorney if necessary.

  1. To begin the process the landlord must give written notice to the tenant advising the tenant that he is in violation of the lease. If the violation is failure to pay rent, notice must be served on the tenant giving the tenant 14 days to pay or be subject to termination of the lease or eviction.  All other eviction reasons are 30 days.
  2. If the violation has not been corrected, the landlord may obtain a Summons for Unlawful Detainer from the clerk of the General District Court requesting a judgment for the right to evict and for money owed. It must be served by the Sheriff or a process server at least 10 days before the court date and a copy must be mailed by the landlord to the tenant (also 10 days prior).
  3. On the court date, present to the judge the lease, copy of the notice and the rent ledger. (Copies may be left with the court)
  4. If judgment is granted, the landlord may obtain a writ of possession from the clerk after 10 days from the judgment date unless the court grants the right to "immediate possession".
  5. Upon receiving the writ, contact the Winchester City Sheriff's Office to set a date for the eviction.
  6. On the date of the eviction, the Sheriff supervises the process and keeps it peaceful. The landlord is responsible for locking out the tenant, or removing the tenant's property (and should bring persons, boxes, bags, etc. to do so). Or, in either case the tenant has the right to collect his personal property within 24 hours of the eviction. (If the tenant is locked out, the landlord must provide reasonable access to the tenant.  This is not meant to imply that the tenant has 24 hours moving time, but has a 24 hour period to schedule a time convenient for the landlord to grant access to the property).

Take note of the following:

  • Upon receiving a "Writ of Eviction" even in the case of a Court Granted "Immediate possession", the property owner must wait 10 days for the appeal right to expire before you can request the Sheriff's Office serve a vacate notice. After waiting the 10 days the Sheriff's Office may now serve the vacate notice advising the tenant of the date and time of the eviction. The Sheriff's Office must give the tenant a minimum 72-hour notice from the service of the vacate notice and the time of the eviction.
  • If the eviction is delayed for any reason, an additional minimum 72-hour notice must be given.
  • The Sheriff's Office will reschedule evictions when the weather is bad or temperatures are extremely low.
  • If the landlord is going to proceed with a "set-out" on the day of the eviction, the landlord must provide staff to do so. If the Deputy feels that there is not adequate staff to conduct a "set-out" in a reasonable amount of time, the Deputy will reschedule the eviction.

Writ of Eviction

The Writ of Eviction is a court order authorizing the Sheriff to physically remove a person and his belongings from a premises and to return possession to the landlord. Usually, the court will not issue the Writ of Eviction until the appeal period has lapsed. The appeal period is ten (10) days.

The Writ of Eviction gives the Sheriff "fifteen (15) calendar days from the date the writ is received by the Sheriff, or as soon as practicable thereafter, but in no event later than thirty (30) days from the date the Writ of Eviction was issued." It is important to remember the date the Writ was issued should a postponement be requested after scheduling the eviction.

72-Hour Notice

The 72-Hour Notice is not to be confused with the ten (10) day appeal period. The codes relating to the ten (10) day appeal period and the 72-hour notice are covered under two different code sections. The Writ of Possession will be held in the General District Court Clerk's Office until the ten (10) day appeal period has expired. Upon receiving the Writ, you should contact the Sheriff's Office as soon as possible to schedule the eviction itself. When scheduling the eviction, the Sheriff's Office staff takes many things into consideration, including the 72-hour notice that needs to be given to the tenant prior to the eviction.

Note: When the court grants an immediate Writ of Possession to the landlord, this, in no way, waives the tenant's right to 72 Hours Notice under 8.01-470.

After the Writ is entered into our computer, a staff member will call the landlord to arrange the eviction date and time. Therefore, it is important the landlord write any and all phone numbers on the Writ so that the Sheriff's Office can contact him for scheduling.

Once a mutually agreeable time and date have been set, a staff member will prepare the “72-Hour Notice to Vacate,” which is issued by the Sheriff. The date and time of the eviction must be noted on the form. The notice is then given to the Deputy for service. Pursuant to 8.01-470, Code of Virginia, the notice must be served according to the laws relating to service of process. This is especially important if the landlord is trying to evict a business where the owner has left property inside but is no longer operating the business. If this should occur, the landlord may want to consult an attorney because service at the business cannot be affected and would have to be directed to the owner's home address, and other remedies may be available to the landlord.

Code of VA: 8.01-4708.01-471 & 8.01-472

Duties of the Landlord

The responsibilities of the landlord vary and are specific to the type of eviction to be performed. According to Code of Virginia (COV) 55-237.1:

  • You have turned this dwelling (house or apartment) into a Temporary Storage Area. You now have possession of the dwelling, but any property remaining is still the property of the tenant. The following is a brief outline of what your responsibilities are for the remainder of this process.
  • The tenant shall have the right to remove his personal property from the landlord’s designated storage area at reasonable times during the twenty-four-hour period and until the landlord disposes of the remaining personal property of the tenant.  It is mandated that you cannot remove any of their property during the 24 hours following the eviction. You must provide them reasonable access to the property only for the removal of said property.
  • Any property remaining in the landlord’s storage area upon the expiration of the twenty-four-hour period after the eviction may be disposed of by the landlord as the landlord sees fit or appropriate. After the 24-hour period following the eviction has expired, you have the right to dispose of the tenant’s personal property. Remember that even after the 24-hour period has elapsed, as long as the tenant’s personal property remains in the dwelling, they must be given reasonable access to allow them to remove their property.
  • If the landlord fails to allow reasonable access to the tenant to remove his personal property as provided herein, the tenant shall have a right to injunctive relief and such other relief as may be provided by law. The tenant only has a right to remove their property, but failing to give them access may result in further court action taken against you.

The code only allows the tenant access to the dwelling to remove their property. If the tenant attempts to stay on the property, this becomes a trespassing issue. If this occurs, please notify the Police or the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Visit Instructions

The responsibilities of the landlord vary and are specific to the type of eviction to be performed.

  1. Arrive on time. The Deputy will wait about ten (10) minutes if the landlord is running late. However, after ten (10) minutes, the Deputy will leave the scene. Communication is key here. Let the Sheriff's Office know if there is an emergency situation. The Deputy will try to work with the landlord, but he will not wait any longer than ten (10) minutes if we have not heard from the landlord.
  2. Do not enter the property before the deputy arrives. Entering before the deputy arrives will result in the sheriff canceling the writ and not performing the eviction. This is done to ensure both the landlord's safety and the safety of the Deputy, but moreover, to limit liability to the Sheriff and the landlord by false accusations made by disgruntled tenants. If the landlord starts moving property out before the Deputy arrives, he cannot ensure the eviction has been done in a lawful manner and will back out, stating the landlord has taken action without the assistance of the Sheriff.
  3. Any knowledge the landlord has about the tenant is helpful to the Deputy. It is important for the Sheriff to know if the tenant may have any weapons in the dwelling or if the tenant has been arrested for assault or is believed to be dealing drugs. Incidental information, such as inoperative cars, pets, waterbeds, and juveniles left alone, is important because it can prolong the eviction and may necessitate additional preparation by the landlord, the Sheriff, or animal control. If the landlord knows the tenant has changed the locks, the landlord may want to have a locksmith available at the appointed time.
  4. The landlord must supply sufficient personnel (movers) to allow speedy removal of the property. The deputy, at his discretion, can postpone the eviction due to a lack of sufficient personnel. If the eviction is postponed for lack of sufficient personnel, the landlord will be required to pay additional fees for the service of the new 72 hours notice. We usually recommend at least three (3) to five (5) people depending upon the amount of property inside. It is the landlord's responsibility to remove the property. The Deputy is there only to maintain peace and to protect the public from harmful objects.
  5. The wise landlord should come prepared with tools (hammer, screwdrivers, etc.) and boxes or bags in which to place loose items. Dangerous household hazardous materials or chemicals will not be placed to the curb and it will be the duty of the landlord to properly dispose of those materials at a designated landfill. Other objects which could be considered dangerous to the public and anything of real value will be confiscated by the Deputy and brought into the office after inventory of the items, (i.e., guns, knives, pornographic materials, money, expensive jewelry, and prescription medication.)
  6. While the Code of Virginia does not require the landlord to change the locks after completion of the eviction, the landlord may want to consider doing so. There have been several occasions, where after the property has been placed to the public right of way, the tenant has come back and moved everything back in.

Postponing or Canceling Scheduled Evictions

Postponing the Writ can be defined as rescheduling the eviction date to another day. The landlord can postpone the eviction only once. If the first scheduled date is postponed and rescheduled to a later date and time, the 72 hour notice must be served again giving the new time and date, allowing at least an additional 72 hours notice to the tenant. In addition, the landlord must pay an additional $12 fee for each tenant being served with the new notice. Payment of the fee must be made before service of the second notice.

Canceling the Writ means the landlord no longer wants to evict the tenant or the tenant has already moved out and there is no need for assistance by the Sheriff.

The Sheriff reserves the right to postpone or cancel a scheduled eviction due to inclement weather. Generally speaking, if it is raining, snowing, or there are gale force winds, then the eviction will be postponed and rescheduled for another day. The 72 hour notice must be served giving the new time and date, allowing at least an additional 72 hours notice to the tenant. No additional fee will be required if the Sheriff postpones the eviction due to weather.

Civil Matter Codes

There are several Va code sections that can help you in any civil matter.  Here as a few relating to evictions.

COV 8.01-156: Authority of sheriffs, etc., to store and sell personal property removed from premises; recovery of possession by owner; disposition or sale.

COV 8.01-470: Writs on judgments for specific property.

COV 55-237.1: Authority of sheriffs to store and sell personal property removed from premises; recovery of possession by owner; disposition or sale.

COV 55-248.38:2:  Authority of sheriffs to store and sell personal property removed from residential premises; recovery of possession by owner; disposition or sale.

For the Tenant

On the day of the eviction, all property will be placed along the nearest public right of way. Should the tenant leave any pets, they may be recovered through the Winchester Police Department's Animal Control Division. If the tenant cannot be present when the eviction takes place, the tenant may want to have someone whom they can trust be there to protect their property. The Sheriff or Deputy can only ensure the safety of the tenant's property while he is there. Once the Deputy leaves, he is no longer responsible for the property.

In the event there are children home at the time of the eviction without an adult, the Department of Social Services will be called if the tenants cannot make arrangements for supervised shelter of the children. SHERIFF Sheriff's Office Home Community Relations Forms and Fingerprints Jury Duty Our Sheriff Visit the Courthouse

Department Head


Sheriff William Sales

In 2021, Sheriff Sales transferred from the Winchester Police Department to the Winchester Sheriff's Department with the intention of learning every position within the agency. Sheriff Sales was elected to the position in 2024. The Sheriff is a board member of the Timbrook Achievement Center, Laurel Center, Top of Virginia TRIAD, Fraternal Order of Police, and Kiwanis.