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Virginia Public Records

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as outlined in sections 2.2-3700 to 2.2-3713 of the Virginia Code, grants citizens of Virginia the legal entitlement to access public records maintained by state and local government bodies, such as the Office of the Attorney General. However, this right has certain exclusions, such as documents shielded under attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine, specific records related to law enforcement and criminal investigations, and personnel files.

How to request Virginia Public Records?

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as outlined in the Virginia Code (sections 2.2-3700 to 2.2-3713), grants citizens of Virginia the legal entitlement to access public records maintained by state and local governmental bodies.

Table of Contents

To request public records in Virginia under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), follow these steps:

Where to find Public Records in Virginia

Depending on the type of record you are seeking, there are numerous options for where you can find public records in Virginia.

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce):

The Virginia Department of Health's Office of Vital Records handles these records.

Property Records:

Property records in Virginia can be accessed through the Virginia Tax Assessors portal, which provides assessment, parcel, tax, and GIS data for Virginia counties.

Business Records:

Business records can be obtained from the State Corporation Commission of Virginia.

Court Records:

For Virginia court records, including criminal records, you can contact the court clerk where the case occurred, use the online portal of the Circuit Court, or visit the public access computer terminals in the Clerks' offices.

Driving Records:

You can obtain your Virginia driving record online, by mail, or in person. Visit the Virginia DMV website for detailed instructions and fee information.

Professional Licenses

To look up professional licenses in Virginia, use the License Lookup tool provided by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

Virginia State Archives:

For historical records in Virginia, you can visit the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Their archives contain a wide range of historical documents and are open to the public by appointment.

Are Virginia Public Records Available Online?

Yes. Many Virginia public records are available online, although the availability can vary depending on the type of record and the specific agency maintaining them. Each agency’s website provides detailed information on how to access these records and any associated fees or requirements. Keep in mind that while many records are available online, some may still require an in-person visit or a formal request to access.

State Public Records Law

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as outlined in sections 2.2-3700 to 2.2-3713 of the Virginia Code, grants citizens of Virginia the legal entitlement to access public records maintained by state and local government bodies, such as the Office of the Attorney General.

Which records are public in Virginia?

Which Records are Not Public in Virginia?

In Virginia, certain records are exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and are not considered public. These exemptions are designed to protect privacy, public safety, and the effective functioning of government. Key categories of non-public records include:

Virginia Background Checks

Virginia background checks are investigations conducted to review a person’s professional, criminal, financial, and sometimes personal history. These checks are often used by employers, landlords, and other entities to evaluate an individual’s qualifications, trustworthiness, and suitability for a job, rental, or other positions of responsibility.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal Records

Information on convictions, arrests, court records, and potentially any history of incarceration. This typically includes both misdemeanors and felonies but may vary based on the depth of the check and applicable laws regarding reporting.

Employment History

Verification of past employment, including dates of employment, positions held, and reasons for leaving. This helps to validate an individual's work experience and professionalism.

Education Verification

Confirmation of degrees, certifications, and educational achievements claimed by the individual. This ensures that the educational qualifications presented are accurate.

Credit History

A credit report may be included, especially for positions involving financial responsibility. This report can highlight financial stability, indebtedness, and financial management skills.

Driving Records

For roles requiring vehicle operation, driving records may be reviewed to assess driving history, licenses, and any traffic violations or accidents.

Professional Licenses and Certifications

Verification of any professional licenses or certifications required for the job, ensuring they are current and valid.

Personal References

Interviews or checks with personal references can provide insights into an individual's character, reliability, and behavior.

Social Security Number Verification

This verifies the individual's legal identity and eligibility to work in the United States.

Civil Records

For certain positions, civil records like bankruptcy filings or civil lawsuits might be relevant.

Sex Offender Registry Check

Checking against state and national sex offender registries, especially for positions involving work with vulnerable populations.

Virginia Court Records

Overview of the Virginia court system and its Structure

The Virginia court system is a tiered structure of courts that handle various legal matters, ranging from minor infractions to complex civil and criminal cases. Here’s an overview of its structure:

  • Supreme Court of Virginia: This is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It primarily reviews decisions made by lower courts, through appeals. The Supreme Court has the authority to hear certain original cases, but its primary function is to review cases on appeal. It consists of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices.
  • Court of Appeals of Virginia: This court provides intermediate appellate review of lower court decisions. It has jurisdiction over domestic relations matters, administrative agency decisions, and traffic infractions. The Court of Appeals also hears appeals from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • Circuit Courts: These are the principal trial courts in Virginia. Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over civil cases with claims of more than $25,000, felony criminal cases, and family matters like divorces. They also hear appeals from the General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.
  • General District Courts: These courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanors, traffic cases, and preliminary hearings in felony charges. In civil cases, they handle matters where the amount in controversy is $25,000 or less.
  • Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts: These specialized courts handle cases involving juveniles, such as delinquency cases, child custody, support, and visitation matters, and cases involving family or household members.
  • Magistrates: Virginia magistrates are judicial officers who provide an independent, unbiased review of complaints brought by law enforcement officers and the public. They issue arrest warrants, summonses, bonds, and search warrants, and conduct bail hearings.

Types of Virginia Court Records

Small and Civil Court Records​

Virginia Criminal Records

Virginia Family Records

Virginia Probate Records

Virginia Traffic Records

Virginia Bankruptcy Records

Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

In Virginia, court records are generally public, but there are several restrictions and limitations to ensure confidentiality and privacy. Firstly, certain records are deemed confidential by law and are not accessible to the public.

These include juvenile records, adoption records, and mental health records. Additionally, records involving sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers or personal contact details, are typically redacted to protect individual privacy. In cases of family law, especially those involving minors, many details are kept confidential to protect the interests of the children involved.

Furthermore, in criminal cases, certain information may be sealed or expunged, particularly if it pertains to ongoing investigations or if it involves sensitive or classified information. Virginia law also restricts access to records in cases where public disclosure could threaten public safety, impede the administration of justice, or infringe upon the privacy rights of individuals.

Thus, while the Virginia court system operates under the principle of transparency, these measures are crucial to balancing the public’s right to information with the protection of individual privacy and the integrity of the judicial process.

What do these records contain

Virginia Public Vital Records

Marriage and Divorce Records: Virginia marriage records include legal details, names, and dates of marriages and are maintained by the Office of Vital Records, a division of the Department of Health. These records, dating from 1853 to the present, are restricted for 50 years post-event and can be accessed via the Office of Vital Records, county Clerk’s Offices, or online databases. For more information and to access these records, visit the Office of Vital Records. Divorce records in Virginia, containing detailed information and judgments, are accessible only to the involved parties for 25 years post-event. After this period, they are considered public and can be obtained from the Vital Records Office. For access to these records, you can refer to the Vital Records Office website.

Birth and Death Records: Birth and death records in Virginia, available from 1912 to the present, provide vital information about these life events. The Office of Vital Records maintains these records, with birth records being public information if they are 100 years or older, while newer records are accessible only to eligible parties. To access birth and death records, visit the Office of Vital Records website. These records can be essential for various legal, personal, and genealogical purposes. The publicly available database includes birth records from 1912 onwards and death records, offering a valuable resource for historical and family research. 

Virginia Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of criminal records in Virginia

Virginia criminal records, often referred to as rap sheets, are official documents detailing an individual’s criminal history within the state. These records typically include a variety of information:

  • Personal Information: Name, aliases, date of birth, fingerprints, photographs, and physical descriptions such as height, weight, hair and eye color.
  • Arrest Data: Details about arrests, including the date, location, and the law enforcement agency involved.
  • Charges and Convictions: Specific charges brought against the individual, court case numbers, trial information, and details of convictions, including sentencing.
  • Incarceration Records: If applicable, these records show details about any incarcerations, including the duration and location of imprisonment.
  • Probation and Parole Details: Information about any probation or parole, including terms and status.

Virginia criminal records are compiled from various sources, including police departments, Virginia’s court system, and correctional facilities. These records are maintained for use by law enforcement agencies, employers conducting background checks, and other authorized entities. They are accessible to the public, although some sensitive information might be restricted to protect privacy or ongoing investigations.

Police Records and Reports

Police records and reports in Virginia contain information about incidents and investigations conducted by police departments. These records typically include details of crimes, arrests, police responses, and investigative steps. They can be requested from the specific police department involved in the incident or investigation. The process for accessing these records may vary between different departments.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records in Virginia provide information about individuals who have been arrested and processed by law enforcement agencies. These records usually include the arrestee's personal information, booking photos, charges, and details of the arrest. You can access these records online through Virginia Arrests and Inmate Search.

DUI Records

DUI records in Virginia detail instances where individuals have been arrested and convicted for driving under the influence. These records contain information about the offense, including the date, location, and any penalties imposed. DUI records can be obtained through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles DMV Records.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Felony and misdemeanor records in Virginia include information about an individual's criminal convictions, whether for a felony or a misdemeanor. These records provide details about the crime, court proceedings, and sentencing. Access to these records can be found through VirginiaCourtRecords.us.

Parole Records

Parole records in Virginia contain details about individuals who have been released from prison on parole, including terms of release, parole officer information, and compliance status. The Virginia Parole Board maintains these records.

Probation Records

Probation records in Virginia detail an individual's probation terms, compliance status, and any violations. These records are maintained by the Virginia Department of Corrections. You can find more information on the Virginia Department of Corrections website.

Warrant Search

Warrant searches in Virginia can reveal outstanding warrants issued against individuals. These searches can be conducted through the Virginia State Police.

Inmate And Jail Records

Inmate and jail records in Virginia provide information about individuals who are currently or have been incarcerated in state prisons or local jails. These records include details such as inmate personal information, incarceration date, expected release date, and the facility where they are held. Access to these records can be obtained through individual prison or jail websites or state databases.

What you can find

In Virginia, inmate and jail records provide comprehensive information about individuals who are incarcerated in state prisons or local jails. These records typically include:

  • Personal Information: The inmate’s name, date of birth, mugshots, physical descriptors, and sometimes biographical details.
  • Incarceration Details: Dates of incarceration, expected release dates, and information about the specific facility where the inmate is held.
  • Criminal Information: Details about the crimes for which the inmate was convicted, including case numbers, charges, and sentencing information.
  • Custody Status: Current status of the inmate, such as whether they are in general population, solitary confinement, or on parole.
  • Conduct Records: Information about the inmate’s behavior while incarcerated, including any disciplinary actions or rewards.

How to Perform an Inmate Search in Virginia

To perform an inmate search in Virginia, follow these steps:

  • Use the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) Inmate Locator: Visit the VADOC’s official Inmate Locator tool. This online database allows you to search for inmates in state prisons.
  • Search by Inmate Information: You can typically search using the inmate’s name or offender ID number. Provide as much information as possible to narrow down the results.
  • Local Jail Records: If the inmate is in a local jail rather than a state prison, visit the website of the specific county jail or local law enforcement agency. Many counties have their own inmate search tools.
  • Contact the Facility: If online search tools are not yielding results or if you need more specific information, you can directly contact the prison or jail where the inmate is believed to be held.

Can I look up mugshots in Virginia?

Yes, you can look up mugshots in Virginia. Mugshots are typically part of an arrest record and are considered public records in many jurisdictions. They can often be found in the following ways:

  • Online Databases: Various online databases and websites provide access to mugshots. Law enforcement agencies manage some of these, while others are independent platforms that compile public records.
  • Local Sheriff’s Office or Police Department: You can request mugshots directly from the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Each agency may have different procedures for requesting these records.
  • Court Records: If the arrest led to a court case, the mugshot might be included in the court records, which are generally public.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests: If other methods are not fruitful, you can file a FOIA request with the relevant agency in Virginia.

Virginia Arrest Records

Virginia arrest records are official documents that provide details about an individual’s arrest history within the state.

What Do These Records Contain:

These records typically contain:

  • Personal Information: The arrested individual’s name, date of birth, physical description, and sometimes photographs (mugshots).
  • Arrest Details: Information about the arrest, including the date, time, location, and the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest.
  • Charges: Specific charges filed against the individual at the time of arrest.
  • Booking Information: Details about the booking process, including the booking number and the facility where the individual was processed.
  • Bail or Bond Information: If applicable, details about bail or bond posted.
  • Case Information: Initial court dates and related case numbers, if charges were filed.

Virginia arrest records do not necessarily indicate a conviction and should not be used to infer an individual’s criminal history comprehensively. Law enforcement agencies across Virginia maintain them and are generally considered public records, accessible to the public for legitimate purposes.

Virginia Property and Asset Records Online

To find Virginia property and asset records online, you can visit the website of the Virginia Department of Taxation or the respective county assessor’s office where the property is located. These websites typically offer searchable databases where you can look up property records by entering an address, owner’s name, or parcel number. The records may include details like property valuation, tax information, and ownership history.

Unclaimed Properties in Virginia

For unclaimed properties in Virginia, the Virginia Department of the Treasury’s Division of Unclaimed Property operates an online database. You can search for unclaimed properties such as forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, or other assets by visiting their website. This service allows individuals to search for any property that may be registered under their name or a relative’s name. If you find unclaimed property, the website provides instructions on how to claim it, usually involving submitting a form and providing proof of identity.

Driving Records

To find driving records in Virginia, you can request them from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These records can be obtained online, by mail, or in person at a DMV office. For online requests, visit the Virginia DMV’s official website, where you can view and print your driving record. If you prefer to request by mail or in person, complete the required forms and submit them along with the applicable fee to the DMV.

Civil Driving Infractions

Civil driving infractions in Virginia are non-criminal traffic offenses that typically result in fines and points on your driving record, but not jail time. These include speeding, running a red light or stop sign, improper lane changes, and failure to yield. These violations are considered less serious than criminal offenses like DUI (driving under the influence) or reckless driving. However, accumulating too many points from these infractions can lead to consequences like increased insurance rates, driving privilege suspension, and mandatory driver improvement courses. Each infraction carries a specific number of demerit points, which can affect your driving record for several years.

Virginia White Pages - Find People, Addresses, and Other Non-Official Information

Address Search ​

An address search in Virginia allows individuals to find specific information related to a particular address within the state. This can include property details, owner information, tax records, and historical data about the property. Such searches are typically conducted through county assessor websites or real estate platforms, which provide detailed public records and other relevant data. Address searches are useful for real estate transactions, legal purposes, and personal research.

People Search​

People searches in Virginia are conducted to find information about individuals, such as contact details, background information, and public records. These searches can be done through various online services and databases, some of which may require a fee. People search tools often aggregate data from public records, social media, and other publicly available sources. They are commonly used for reconnecting with lost contacts, background checks, and genealogical research. However, it’s important to use this information ethically and respect privacy laws.

Can I Search By a Phone Number and Identify The Owner?

Yes, in Virginia, you can search by a phone number to identify the owner. This process, commonly known as a reverse phone lookup, can be performed using various online services and directories. These tools match the phone number to a person or a business, providing details such as the owner’s name, address, and other associated information. It’s important to use reputable and legal services for this purpose, as privacy laws and ethical considerations apply. Such searches are often used for identifying unknown callers, verifying the authenticity of a number, or reconnecting with lost contacts.

License Plate Lookup in Virginia

In Virginia, license plate lookups can be performed for various legitimate purposes, such as in the case of a hit-and-run incident or for official investigations. However, it’s important to note that private individuals generally cannot access someone else’s vehicle registration information due to privacy laws. Here’s how you can do a license plate lookup:

  • Law Enforcement: If you have a valid reason, such as a traffic incident, report it to the police. Law enforcement can access license plate information.
  • Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): For specific needs, such as a legal or business inquiry, you can contact the Virginia DMV. They may require a formal request and a valid reason for the lookup.
  • Online Services: There are online services offering license plate lookups, but be cautious as they might not always provide accurate or legal information.
  • Private Investigators: In certain cases, hiring a licensed private investigator is an option. They have the ability to conduct such searches legally for permissible purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

In Virginia, any member of the public, including residents, non-residents, and members of the media, can request public records.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Fees may be associated with requesting public records in Virginia, typically covering the cost of searching, retrieving, and copying documents.

Are public records Free to access?

While accessing public records in Virginia is generally free, charges may apply for copying and labor involved in fulfilling the request.

What is the response time for public records requests?

The response time for public records requests in Virginia is typically five working days, though this can vary based on the complexity of the request.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, your request for public records in Virginia can be rejected if the records fall under certain exemptions, such as those protecting personal privacy, law enforcement investigations, or attorney-client privilege.

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