Virginia Public Records
Located in the South Atlantic Region of the United States, the state of Virginia is rich in history and has many nicknames to prove it. Also known as the “Old Dominion” because it was the first colonial possession established in mainland British America and “Mother of Presidents” because Virginia was the birthplace of eight U.S. Presidents. Virginia was one of the original 13 colonies, and its General Assembly is known as the oldest continuous law-making body in the country. The state is the 12th most populated, with over 8.3 million residents, and does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.
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Virginia Public Records Laws
Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1968 and can be found in Title 2.2 Chapter 37 of the Code of Virginia. The state also established a Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council in 2000 as a source of both formal and informal advice to individuals and public agencies. Under the Law, “any person from the state of Virginia” may access public records. The purpose of the request need not be stated, and the use of any records obtained is unrestricted.
Records that are included under the Act are those produced by “public bodies” in Virginia including state universities, and the executive and legislative branches. Records that are not included, or are exempt, include:
- Mental health records
- Child fatality records
- Trade secrets
- Virginia Port Authority records
- Personal information
- Investigatory records
- Records made exempt by statute or court order
Virginia Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks
Background checks in Virginia are administered by the Virginia State Police. A Criminal History Records Check is a name-based search that can be ordered by individuals, employers, and licensing agencies. Depending on the situation, as governed by statute, a signed and notarized authorization form may be required before running the background check. These reports return criminal histories for the state of Virginia only.
Virginia Jail and Inmate Records
The Virginia Department of Corrections website has information on offenders, the correctional facilities in the state, and services for victims. If you wish to locate an offender in the system, you can search on the Offender Locator page that will ask you for either an Offender ID or a First and Last Name. You will be provided with the offender’s current location and earliest release date.
Virginia Court Records
Information on the court system in Virginia and court records can be found on the administrator of the courts website. Disclosure of court records is governed by both separate statutes and common law. The court website has pages that can be searched for case status and information on cases in the supreme court, the court of appeals, the circuit court, and the general district court. There is no online access for the juvenile or domestic relations court. Regardless of the online information obtained, copies of actual case files will still need to be requested from the clerk of the court at the courthouse where the case was heard.
Virginia Vital Records
Vital records, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates, in the state of Virginia are administered by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Vital Records. Birth records and death records are available from 1912 to present. Marriage records are available from 1936 to present and divorce records from 1918 to present. In Virginia, birth records become public information after 100 years and death, marriage and divorce records after 25 years. If the data isn’t “public”, you will need to prove that you are either listed on the record or are an immediate family member, legal guardian, or legal representative to make a request.
There are several ways to request any of these records in Virginia:
- In Person: You can order in person at the State Office at 2001 Maywill Street, Richmond, VA 23230 or at any full-service Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
- By Mail: Simply download and complete the proper form and return it with copies of required documentation to: Division of Vital Records, P.O. Box 1000, Richmond, VA, 23218.
- Online: Place your order and payment through VitalCheck.com.