Are Criminal Records Public in Virginia?
Yes. According to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), criminal records are public records and, therefore, accessible to members of the public except for some documents which are restricted by the law. All records kept by any government agency in Virginia are seen as public records. However, if a criminal record has been sealed or expunged in the court, then it is no longer accessible to the public. Depending on the type and source of the Virginia criminal record, public requesters can expect to find the following information about the subject:
- Full name and known aliases
- Birthdate, gender, race, and other identifying personal data
- A set of fingerprints and a mugshot
- Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
- Details of past criminal offenses, indictments, and convictions
- Post-conviction status
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
What is Considered a Criminal Record in Virginia?
Criminal records in Virginia are official documents identifying convicted criminals and details of known criminal activities. These documents, commonly known as rap sheets, include arrest, prosecution, and conviction records from criminal justice agencies in Virginia, including the courts and Virginia correctional facilities. Besides the subject’s personal information, a complete criminal record provides information regarding felonies and misdemeanors committed by the subject and arrest, indictment, and conviction histories.
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Virginia?
Criminal records in Virginia are available from various law enforcement agencies. The Virginia State Police is the central custodian for criminal records and provides access to statewide criminal history record checks. Generally, interested public requesters must complete an SP-167 request form. Next, the requester must prepare a money order or certified check made payable to the Virginia State Police and enclose the application packet in a self-addressed stamped envelope. Then, mail the sealed envelope to:
Virginia State Police
Civil & Applicants Records Exchange
P.O. Box 85076
Richmond, VA 23285
Phone: (804) 674-2131
Generally, a request for criminal records takes fifteen (15) days to process. The Virginia State Police does not offer expedited service, so requesters must mail in the request as soon as possible. Furthermore, the agency will only process a request upon confirming full payment for the service. It is possible to perform a free public criminal record search. One way to do this is to call or email the agency for a fee waiver, explaining financial hardship or other conditions that make the requester eligible for a fee waiver. The record custodian is likely to consider the waiver request if releasing the record serves the public’s interests and not for commercial purposes.
Are Arrest Records Public in Virginia?
When a law enforcement agency in Virginia makes an arrest, a record for the suspect is created; this record is considered public under the VFOIA. The Sheriff of a county or the Chief of Police usually creates and maintains public arrest records. A requester can conduct an arrest search for these data with the state police of the department of public safety. There may be low-cost or free arrest records available, but usual copy and certification fees apply.
What is Considered an Arrest Record in Virginia?
Virginia arrest records contain details of individuals arrested by Virginia state police or any other law enforcement agencies in the state as well as the incidents leading to the arrests. These records do not represent an admission of guilt or indictments. Rather, they are official documents indicating named individuals were taken into custody during an active investigation, following observed crimes, or in compliance with court orders. In Virginia, an arrest record would provide the following details:
- Name of the arrest and other identifying information
- Where and when the arrest took place
- Description of the alleged offense necessitating the arrest
- Name of the arresting officer
- Jail where the arrestee was held
Although Virginia arrest records are included in police records, police records also contain police reports, incident reports, and police activity logs.
Virginia Arrest Warrants
A Virginia arrest warrant is an official court document giving law enforcement officers the legal authority to detain an individual of interest. An arrest warrant can serve as an active warrant search to properly investigate the suspect. Only judges (and magistrate judges) can approve arrest warrants in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Before they can sign and issue arrest warrants, law enforcement officers requesting these documents must show probable cause. The only permissible reason to arrest an individual without a warrant is following a crime witnessed by a law enforcement officer. Details provided in a Virginia arrest warrant include:
- Name and other personal data of subject of the warrant
- The alleged offense for which the subject will be charged
- Possible time and location for the arrest
- Expiration date (for some warrants)
- Name of the judge issuing the warrant and date of issue
How to Lookup Virginia Inmate Records
Virginia inmate records are official documents provided by detention and correctional centers detailing the incarceration of individuals in their facilities. The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) oversees the operations of all state prisons and probation and parole offices. It divides these facilities into three regions with regional offices managing them. To find the records of inmates incarcerated in Virginia state prisons, use the Offender Locator tool found on the VADOC website.
To request additional offender information or perform an inmate search, contact the regional office or correctional facility where the inmate is held. Find the contact information for these facilities on the VADOC website. The Department accepts Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the public by mail, email, fax, and in person and over the phone.
How Do I Find Sex Offenders in Virginia?
The Virginia sex offender registry are records of registered sex offenders living in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While local law enforcement agencies handle the registrations of sex offenders in the counties, the Virginia State Police collates a central registry with information from these sources. To find a registered sex offender living in the state, visit the Sex Offender Registry Search on the website of the Virginia State Police.
Members of the public can also search for registered offenders on the national sex offender registry. The search tool also allows the public to find information about wanted, incarcerated, and civilly committed sex offenders living in Virginia.
As per Megan’s Law passaged in 1994 following the rape and murder of Megan Kanka, the state of Virginia mandates offenders convicted on and after July 1, 1994, to register and re-register with their local law enforcement agencies. The duration of registration varies and depends on the sexual offense committed by the offender.
Understanding DWI Laws in Virginia
In Virginia, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the most common serious traffic violation. Drunk driving and driving under the influence of an intoxicant are traffic violations that often result in property or body damages. In Virginia, the law prohibits a driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.08 or above from driving. The law also prohibits a driver whose blood concentration is 0.01mg methamphetamine, 0.02mg cocaine or 0.02mg phencyclidine from driving. It is believed that the level above the required BAC makes the driver impaired and unable to drive without causing damages. Possible punishments for drunk driving or a DWI in Virginia include:
- Suspension of license
- Requirement to complete a driver improvement clinic
- Notifying offenders’ insurance company
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles uses a point system that assigns three types of demerit points for six, four, and three-point violations. How long these points stay on offenders’ records depends on the severity of their violations.
Virginia Misdemeanors Laws: Offenses and Penalties
In Virginia, misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to 12 months in a local jail. There are four classes of misdemeanors in Virginia with Class 1 misdemeanors being the most serious and Class 4 felony charges are the least serious.
- Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both. Examples of misdemeanors in this class are petit larceny and domestic violence. Misdemeanors not classified by Virginia lawmakers or ones without designated punishments are also placed in this category.
- Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months in jail, up to $1,00 in fine, or both. An example of a Class 2 misdemeanor is possession of a Schedule drug.
- Class 3 and Class 4 misdemeanors are not punished with jail times but fines. A Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by up to $500 while Virginia courts punish IV Class 4 misdemeanors by up to $250 in fines. First-offense public intoxication is an example of Class 4 misdemeanors.
Virginia Felony Laws: Offenses and Penalties
Virginia classifies crimes punishable by death or more than one year in state prison as felonies. There are six felony classes in the Commonwealth.
- Class I felonies are the most serious felony charges in Virginia and are punishable by life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000. Class 1 felonies committed by adults adjudged not to be intellectually disabled may attract a death sentence. Murder is an example of a Class 1 felony.
- Class 2 felonies are punished by up to 20 years in prison and fine amounts up to $100,000. Aggravated malicious assault is a Class 2 felony in Virginia
- Class 3 felonies are punished by prison terms between 5 and 20 years and fines up to $100,000. Burglary is a Class 3 felony in Virginia.
- Class 4 felonies are punishable by 2 – 10 years in prison plus fines up to $100,000. Virginia regards forgery as a Class 4 felony
- Class 5 and Class 6 felonies are regarded as wobblers. These may also be tried as misdemeanors depending on the circumstances of the crime and the discretion of the judge and jury. When considered a felony, a Class 5 felony is punishable by 1 – 10 years in prison while a Class 6 felony is punished by 1 – 5 years in prison
- Class 5 and Class 6 felonies can be considered misdemeanors in Virginia. When considered misdemeanors, Virginia courts punish Class 5 and 6 felonies with up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines
- Battery by a prisoner is considered a Class 5 felony while donating (or attempting to donate) blood infected with HIV is a Class 6 felony.
How to Get Parole Information in Virginia
While VADOC operates probation and parole offices, parole records and decisions are made by the Virginia Parole Board (VPB). To find parole information, submit a FOIA request to the VPB. Sent the request to:
Virginia Parole Board
6900 Atmore Drive
Richmond, VA 23225
Alternatively, call (804) 674-3081 or Fax: (804) 674-3284.
Virginia Probation Records
Probation records are official documents detailing the sentencing and supervised releases of convicted individuals serving their sentences outside detention facilities. Courts grant probation in lieu of jail or prison sentences to qualifying convicts. Judges consider many factors when determining probation periods. The probation officers are in charge of ensuring that the offender adheres strictly to probation rules and is not guilty of probation violation. The Virginia Parole and Probation Board is in charge of all probation records.
Some of the information included in probation records are:
- Full name of the probation
- Offense committed
- Length of the probation period
- Amount the probationer must repay, if applicable
- The assigned probation officer’s name
- How often the probationer must check in with the probation officer
Are Juvenile Criminal Records Public in Virginia?
Virginia juvenile criminal records provide details of crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18. Virginia does not try juveniles as adults. The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) oversees local and state courts and detention facilities handling juvenile matters in a juvenile court. Juvenile criminal records are not public records in Virginia. According to the juvenile justice system in the state, the DJJ only releases these records to former juveniles when they’re over 18, parents of juveniles, and attorneys of juveniles. Other third-party requests must be accompanied by a completed Authorization for Release of Records and Information (not attorney) form. Send a written request along with the appropriate authorization form to:
Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice
600 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23218-1110
Alternatively, send the documents to Lara.Todd@djj.virginia.gov or call (804) 625-3392.
What are Conviction Records?
Virginia courts prepare conviction records to document indictments, pleas, hearings, and sentencing of individuals found guilty in criminal cases. Judges and juries render convictions in Virginia at the end of misdemeanor and felony trials. A conviction record also includes a final judgment stating the judge’s sentence and whether the convict should be fined, imprisoned, paroled, or placed on probation. An individual’s conviction record may be missing a final judgment if their sentence was reversed or set aside.
Virginia History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
Before the advent of computer systems, Virginia criminal records were kept on paper. Paper records are not as reliable as electronic records. They are more likely to get lost as paper deteriorates in storage. This outcome and user error during recordkeeping make old criminal records less accurate than the ones kept when Virginia courts, law enforcement agencies, and detention facilities adopted electronic systems for keeping, storing, and retrieving records. Some government agencies digitized their records to preserve them.
Find Virginia Criminal History Record for Free
A criminal history record, also called a rap sheet, is an overview document containing an individual’s contacts with law enforcement agencies. The rap sheet provides details of all the arrests, convictions, incarceration sentences, and parole violations, including dismissals and court verdicts committed by an individual. In addition, the Virginia criminal record often contains information about an individual’s height, eye, weight, fingerprint classification, race, and social identification numbers.
Virginia makes criminal history records available for access from law enforcement agencies. The central custodian of criminal records is the Virginia State Police. The same grants official access to check statewide criminal history records. Commonly, public requesters of criminal record history checks must complete an SP-167 request form. Additionally, one can access criminal history records in Virginia from several places.
The Virginia state courts also hold summary documents about records of a legal process. The Court record may contain indictments, motions, orders, and most importantly, a final verdict disposing of the case.
2019 Code of Virginia 19.2 - Criminal Procedure covers the basic necessary satisfactory requirement one must satisfy to obtain criminal history records from the Virginia state Department of Justice after submitting live scan fingerprints. Virginia state grants direct access to the NII to entities other than the FBI and State. The criminal history records shall not be permitted for criminal justice purposes that are not criminal.
To be granted access, the Virginia state criminal history record holders:
1. Will charge a fingerprint processing fee, per the Virginia state law, in the event of a noncriminal justice purpose except the record is for criminal justice information; and
2. Also, may not charge a fingerprint processing fee for giving access to an individual’s criminal history records if it does not involve a demand to carry out fingerprint analysis.
An individual who submits a request for a copy of their own criminal history record information according to the code in § 9.1-101 does so at his expense.
However, the criminal history record information shall be granted at no fee to an individual who has applied as a volunteer with any of these institutions (i) an affiliate of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America; (ii) a Virginia volunteer of a fire company; (iii) the Virginia Volunteer Emergency Families for Children; (iv) any Virginia affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse (v) Virginia affiliate of Compeer; and (vi) any board member or an individual who has been offered deserved membership on the board of a Crime Stoppers, or Crime Line program as stated in § 15.2-1713.1.
In event of financial hardship or other conditions, a requester is deemed eligible for a fee waiver. However, the record custodian is only likely to consider the waiver request if the police record serves the public’s interests and not for commercial purposes. Waiving the criminal history record fee indicates that a person can obtain criminal justice information from the Virginia DOJ for free. Notwithstanding such privileges, Individuals are not released from the obligation to pay the fingerprinting service processing fee.
Are Police Records Public in Virginia?
Yes, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) categorizes police records as public records. Hence, they are made available to public requesters except in the instance of certain documents which are confined by the law. All police records in the possession of any law enforcement government agency in Virginia are often categorized as public records.
A police record means any record developed, received, or maintained by law enforcement agencies for the detection, prevention, investigation, reporting, or prosecution of crime. In Virginia, the police record also includes complaints, traffic reports, crime reports, audio & video recordings, warrants, investigative reports, crime statistics, and department releases, etc.
Notwithstanding, if such a police record is erased in court, then access is no longer granted to the public requesters. These records hereby are subject to privacy or confidentiality laws. Access is only granted to an authorized few, police records that may be restricted from public access under the Virginia Code 2.2-3705.1 and 2.2-3706, include:
- Personnel records
- Legal memoranda and written advice from legal counsel
- Tests or examinations
- Confidential administrative investigations
- Background investigations of applicants
- Complaints, memos, correspondence, case files, statements, evidence
- Cell phone, pager, mobile device numbers of personnel
Anything that will:
- Threaten an ongoing investigation
- Endanger the safety of an individual
- Force a suspect to flee
- Exterminate evidence
The police department may choose to retract these personal details:
- Identity of victims, witnesses
- Identity of undercover officers
- Investigative techniques
- Identity of anonymous sources
How to Obtain Police Records in Virginia
In Virginia, police records can be accessed from various law enforcement agencies. The Virginia Police departments hold main custody of all police records. They also grant access to these records for background checks. Typically, anyone who submits a request for a police record is expected to complete an SP-167 request form to be granted access if the record is not expunged or classified. Then, the public requester is expected to channel an invoice order or a certified check to the State Police in Virginia for proper processing. Afterward, send a mail to the Virginia state police address.
Approximately, the police will require a minimum of fifteen days to process the request before access is granted. As earlier discussed, On the claims of financial hardship and other raised conditions, one can get a free access waiver to the Police records in Virginia. Especially if the record will serve the interest of the public.
Are Police Reports Public Record?
Yes, police reports are made public in Virginia. A police report is a law enforcement record that provides a detailed illustration of an incident or arrest that took place. After an accident, the Virginia police write a detailed report, which will help when an individual is ready to file a case in court. The report covers the names of victims and witnesses, timelines, offenses, and other details or facts relevant to an incident or arrest.
A few available police reports in Virginia include:
- Auto Crash reports
- Police incident/crime reports.
- Arrest reports, for example, DUI reports
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act currently allows police offices statewide to release their reports, the departments almost always say no to all such requests as a matter of policy. While some proponents advocate for this, others against access law insist that the police investigative files contain a lot of sensitive information - including evidence from witnesses and information about other crimes - that ought to be safeguarded.
Regardless, the police will grant access to reports except on occasions where unrestricted access will interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation in a particularly obvious manner, grant an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, or even endanger anyone’s physical safety.
How to File a Police Report with Virginia Law Enforcement
The Virginia legislature permits citizens to file online police crime or incident reports with local law enforcement. Online reporting of incidence facilitates easy reporting of alleged crimes for better reach and response from the local enforcement agencies.
Before one can file a police incident report in Virginia. The following must be taken into consideration for the sake of a false alarm and wrong documentation:
The incident is not happening at the instance or had just occurred. Also, all forms of violent crime, racist crime, rape or sexual assault, stolen auto, An incident involving, breaking, and auto crash.
The following crimes can be reported without restriction:
Improper driving behavior, Vandalism, Lost Property, Noise, and solicitor Violation. Trespassing and Improper driving behavior.
To file a traffic enforcement request and have a member of the Virginia Traffic Unit look into the issue, Kindly, fill out a Traffic Enforcement Request
To file a report for an incident, take note of the following:
The incident must have occurred in the closest County. If the incident occurred in a different jurisdiction, kindly file a report with the law enforcement agency in that jurisdiction. Possession of accurate information is necessary. Identifying information such as model, serial numbers, and other identifying marks for descriptions, including unusual characteristics for persons will be requested. Including partial information
As with any police report, the information contained within the report is regarded and treated as confidential and may only be released to individuals who legally have a right to know. In the future when the reporter needs an official copy, they must verify their identity with the Virginia criminal justice before a copy is released.
Where to Find Free Public Police Records
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act encourages state law enforcement agencies to make certain police records publicly accessible. Under the Virginia Freedom Act, citizens are given access to inspect public records for free, as all government information and records are presumed public. These records can be obtained in Virginia without submitting any personal information unless the court order or local law classifies a record as confidential.
Virginia State Records contains 75 million transparent criminal records, court records, and vital public records. One can place an order for a birth, death, or marriage certificate from the Virginia department of health where a resident will need documents in applications and identity. Attorneys, as well as the general public, have free Virginia criminal and civil court records of divorces, judgments, and liens. Therefore, an individual can request to view or copy court records with the exception that certain personal information would be released and jeopardize an individual's identity security.
Another option to find free public police records in Virginia is through online public records databases provided by local law enforcement departments and offices.
How to Find Mugshots in Virginia
A "mugshot" is a photographic capture of a person from shoulders up, usually taken by law enforcement for easy identification in the case of an arrest or charge.
In adherence to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, mugshots are a matter of public record. However, inquiries of such information can only be online databases managed by certain criminal justice agencies to find mugshots. All inquiry and processing of mugshots in Virginia must satisfy the FCRA of the Virginia state. Unless proven guilty by the local court, these records do not prove anyone as a criminal nor are they deemed legal documents for background checks.