Virginia Criminal Records
What Is a Criminal Record in Virginia?
In Virginia, criminal records are official documents identifying convicted criminals and providing details of their criminal activities. These documents include arrest and conviction records from law enforcement agencies and inmate records from correctional and detention facilities as well as criminal court records and criminal history records. A complete criminal record should provide information regarding felonies and misdemeanors committed by the subject and present their arrest, indictment, and conviction histories.
What Is Contained in a Criminal Record?
Depending on the type and source of the Virginia criminal record, it should provide the following information about the subject:
- Full name including known aliases
- Date of birth, gender, race, and any other identifying personal data
- A set of fingerprints and a mugshot
- Details of past criminal offenses, indictments and convictions
- Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
What are Arrest Records?
Virginia arrest records contain details of individuals arrested by law enforcement agencies in the state as well as the incidents leading to the arrests. These records do not represent 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
What Is an Arrest Warrant?
A Virginia arrest warrant is an official court document giving law enforcement officers the legal authority to detain an individual of interest. 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
What are Virginia Misdemeanors?
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 ones 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 IV 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 Class 4 misdemeanors by up to $250 in fine. First-offense public intoxication is an example of Class 4 misdemeanors
What are Virginia Felonies?
Virginia classifies crimes punishable by death or more than one year in a state prison as felonies. There are six felony classes in the Commonwealth.
- Class I felonies are the most serious felonies in Virginia and 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
- 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.
Virginia Sex Offender Listings
Virginia sex offender listings are records of registered sex offenders living in the Commonwealth. 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 search for registered offenders by name, zip code, address, county, and school. The search tool also allows the public to find information about wanted, incarcerated, and civilly committed sex offenders living in Virginia.
Virginia’s Megan’s Law
The Megan’s Law was passaged in 1994 following the rape and murder of Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl, a known sex offender living in her neighborhood. After the passage of the law and signing by the US president, each state in the Union enacted its own version. Virginia’s equivalent of Megan’s Law 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.
What is a Serious Traffic Violation?
In Virginia, the most common serious traffic violations include speeding, reckless driving, failure to yield right-of-way, vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence (DUI), and driving without a license. Virginia assigns demerit points to these violations and post convictions to offenders’ records. Other possible punishments for moving violations in Virginia include:
- Suspension of license
- Requirement to complete a driver improvement clinic
- Notifying offenders’ insurance company
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles 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.
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 judgement 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 judgement if their sentence was reversed or set aside.
What are Jail and Inmate Records
Virginia jail and inmate records are official documents provided 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, 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.
Where to get Parole Information?
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.
What are 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.
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
- Name of assigned probation officer
- How often the probationer must check in with the probation officer
What are Juvenile Criminal Records?
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. Juvenile criminal records are not public records in Virginia. 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.
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.
How to Find Criminal Records in Virginia
Criminal records in Virginia are available from various law enforcement agencies. The Virginia State Police provides criminal history record checks for nominal fees. County Sheriff’s Offices and police departments may also provide some criminal records upon request. To find these records, contact the local law enforcement agencies by visiting their offices and/or websites. Some also accept requests for court records by phone. Criminal court records are accessible on Case Status and Information portal of the Virginia Judicial System website.