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Virginia Public Records

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Va. Code Ann. secs. 2.2-3700 to 2.2-3713) establishes a legal right for citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia to access public records held by state and local government entities, including the Office of the Attorney General.

There are exceptions to this right, including but not limited to records protected by the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine, specific law enforcement and criminal investigation records, and personnel records.

How to Find Virginia Public Records

Each government agency in Virginia is responsible for maintaining its public records, so there is no central repository of all public records in the state.

You must contact that agency directly to find public records from a specific government agency. While Virginia's Freedom of Information Act does not require a written request, we recommend that you submit your request in writing to ensure that you have a record of your request and the agency's response.

Are Virginia Public Records Available Online?

While Virginia does not have an online portal for searching public records, some agencies maintain online databases that you can search.

For example, the Virginia Department of Health maintains an online database of birth, death, marriage, and divorce records. The Office of Vital Records is the only state-level agency that offers online ordering for these records.

Some counties also offer online property, court, and other public records databases. You can find links to these databases on the website of the county clerk's office or circuit court.

What Records are Available in Virginia?

Like many states, records that are available to the public in Virginia are:

  • Property Records
  • Criminal History Records
  • Court Records
  • Vital Records
  • And more

These records can provide valuable information on property ownership, criminal history, and court proceedings in Virginia. The Department of Historic Resources also offers a wide variety of public records, including architectural surveys and historic district designation reports.

What Records are Non-Public in Virginia?

Exceptions to Virginia's Freedom of Information Act include, but are not limited to:

  • Records protected by attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine
  • Specific law enforcement and criminal investigation records
  • Personnel records
  • Health records
  • Adoption papers
  • Propriety records
  • Other documents as provided by law

For more information on which records are considered public and which are not, you can review Virginia's Freedom of Information Act here.

Types of Public Records Available in Virginia

Here are some examples of the types of public records that are available in Virginia:

Virginia Public Criminal Records

The Central Criminal Records Exchange, maintained by the Virginia State Police, is a central repository for all criminal history information for the state of Virginia. This includes felony and misdemeanor convictions from all general district, circuit, and juvenile and domestic relations district courts.

Certain types of information are not included in the Central Criminal Records Exchange, such as sealed records, expunged records, and certain types of juvenile records.

To request a criminal history record, you can use this website to fill in the required information.

The following information can be found in a Virginia criminal history record:

  • Identifying information, such as name, date of birth, gender, and race
  • Physical descriptors, such as height, weight, and eye and hair color
  • Aliases used
  • Previous arrests
  • Convictions
  • Pending criminal cases
  • Probation information

Arrest Records and Warrants

Arrest records can also be found in the criminal history record. These records will show the date of the arrest, the arresting agency, the charges, and whether the person was released on bail.

If there is an active warrant for a person's arrest, this will also show in the criminal history record. The Department of Corrections also maintains a Most Wanted list on its website.

Warrant information can also be found on the case record search tool of the Virginia Judicial System for any outstanding warrants that a judge in Virginia has issued.

The local Sheriff's Office can also provide information on outstanding warrants in their county.

Inmate and Jail Records

The Department of Corrections maintains an online searchable database of offenders called Offender Locator. It covers those currently incarcerated in a Virginia state prison.

The database includes the inmate's name, date of birth, race, gender, and offense. You can search for an offender by their name or Virginia Department of Corrections offender ID number, which is a unique seven-number identifier assigned to each offender.

If you want to visit an inmate in prison, you can use the Virginia Department of Corrections' Inmate Visitation Scheduling System to apply and schedule a visit. More information can be found here.

Jails and Prisons in Virginia :

Chesterfield County VA Jail6900 Mimms Drive, Chesterfield, VA
Central Virginia Correctional Unit #13 6900 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA
Chesterfield VA Juvenile Detention Home9600 Krause Road, Chesterfield, VA
Loudoun County VA Juvenile Detention Center42020 Loudoun Center Place, Leesburg, VA
Loudoun VA Work Release Center42035 Loudoun Center Place, Leesburg, VA
Loudoun County VA Adult Detention Center42035 Loudoun Center Place, Leesburg, VA
Henrico County Regional Jail East - New Kent County17320 New Kent Highway, Barhamsville, VA
Henrico County Juvenile Detention Center4201 East Parham Rd., P. O. Box 90775, Henrico, VA
Henrico County Regional Jail West4301 East Parham Road, Henrico, VA
Arlington County VA Detention Center1435 North Courthouse Road, Arlington, VA

Virginia Background Checks

The State of Virginia follows the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting background checks. This means that employers need to have an authorization form signed by the applicant before conducting a background check.

Additionally, employers can only use information from a background check for the purpose it was intended, such as to determine if the applicant is qualified for the job.

The Virginia State Police requires employers to complete a fingerprint-based criminal history background check on all employees who will have direct contact with children, the elderly, or disabled persons.

To request a criminal history record check, you can fill out this form and submit it to the Virginia State Police.

Below are the information found on a Virginia background check:

  • Name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Previous addresses
  • Criminal history
  • Employment history
  • Education history
  • Professional licenses and certifications
  • Credit reports
  • Motor Vehicle Records
  • And more

How to find Sex Offenders in Virginia

The Virginia State Police has an online lookup tool and registry of sex offenders who live in Virginia. You can search for sex offenders by name, zip code, city, or county.

The registry includes the offender's name, photo, address, conviction(s), and any aliases they may have used.

Virginia Public Vital Records

As previously stated, Virginia birth, death, marriage, and divorce records are kept by the state vital records office.

To obtain a certified copy of a vital record, you can fill out this online application form and submit it to the Virginia Department of Health. Depending on the vital records you request, you may need to provide additional documentation.

You can either request certificates online or drop off your request, ID, and fee at the front desk of the Division of Vital Records office.

Local counties in Virginia also keep records of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that have taken place within their jurisdiction. You can contact the appropriate county clerk's office to obtain these records.

Virginia Court Records

The Virginia Judicial System manages and maintains an online searchable database of court cases for both the Circuit and General District Courts.

The courts' websites also provide access to electronic case records, dockets, calendars, and indexes. If you want to view or receive copies of court documents, you can check the details here.

Some counties in Virginia, such as Prince William and Fairfax, have their own court case systems. You can access these county-specific court case databases through their websites.

Fees may apply when requesting copies of court documents.

State Court System in Virginia

The courts in Virginia are divided into four levels:

  • The Supreme Court of Virginia: The state's highest court that hears appeals from the lower courts.
  • The Court of Appeals of Virginia: Hears appeals from the Circuit Courts and General District Courts.
  • The Circuit Courts: Trial courts that handle civil and criminal cases.
  • The General District Courts: Trial courts that handle traffic offenses, misdemeanors, and small claims cases.

Courts in Virginia :

Chesterfield Circuit Court9500 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA
Loudoun Circuit Court18 E. Market St., Leesburg, VA
Supreme Court of Virginia100 North Ninth Street, Richmond, VA
Henrico Circuit Court4309 East Parham Road, Henrico, VA
Court of Appeals of Virginia109 North Eighth Street, Richmond, VA
Arlington Circuit Court1425 North Courthouse Road, Arlington, VA
Richmond Circuit Court400 North Ninth Street, Richmond, VA
Richmond County Circuit Court101 Court Circle, Warsaw, VA
Stafford Circuit Court1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA
Spotsylvania Circuit Court9107 Judicial Center Lane, Spotsylvania, VA

Driving Records

The Department of Motor Vehicles allows you to request a copy of your driving record, also known as an MVR (motor vehicle report), online.

Your MVR will show your driving history, including any accidents or traffic violations.

You can also set up an appointment here if you need in-person assistance. Fees may apply when requesting your driving record.

Civil Driving Infractions

Civil driving infractions are not considered criminal offenses in Virginia. You can find more information about civil traffic offenses and how to pay your fines here.

If you have received a civil traffic summons, you must respond within 21 days from when the summons was issued.

You can also choose to appeal your case to the appropriate court. Some common civil driving infractions include:

  • Driving without a license
  • Driving with an expired license
  • Driving without insurance
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving

Virginia License Plate Lookup

The Virginia DMV provides no online license plate lookup service, so you may need to contact them directly if you need assistance with a license plate search.

They can deny your request if the information you request is confidential, so you may need to provide a valid reason for why you need it.

To contact the DMV, you can visit the website here.

Virginia Property and Asset Records Online

There is no central repository for property and asset records in Virginia. You must contact the appropriate county or city clerk's office to obtain these records.

Some counties have online searchable databases, while others may require you to submit a public records request form.

Fees may apply when requesting copies of property and asset records.

You can also do an unclaimed property search through the Virginia Department of the Treasury website. This database contains information on unclaimed money and property that you may owe.

Important Government Agencies in Virginia

Below are some essential government agencies in Virginia:

  1. Secretary of State
  2. State Governor
  3. Department of Historic Resources
  4. Virginia General Assembly
  5. Virginia Attorney General
  6. Office of Vital Records
  7. Virginia Department of Health
  8. Virginia State Police
  9. Virginia Judicial System
  10. Virginia Treasury
  11. Department of Motor Vehicles
  12. Department of Corrections

Counties in Virginia

Other Records in Virginia