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Virginia Arrest Records

Virginia Arrest Records are official documents that contain information about a person's arrest, as well as details about any charges or convictions related to that arrest. Generally, law enforcement agencies, state and local police departments, and the Virginia State Police (VSP) maintain these records.

An arrest in Virginia occurs when a law enforcement officer takes a person into custody concerning a suspected criminal offense. In Virginia, anybody caught or suspected of violating the Virginia Code (VC) may be arrested and charged with a crime.

Once arrested, the information collected during the criminal proceedings will be part of the arrest records in Virginia. In most cases, the specific information that you can find in these records may include the following:

  • The full name, age, and address of the person arrested
  • Mugshot and fingerprints of the person arrested
  • The date, time, and location of the arrest
  • The charges brought against the person arrested
  • Any additional charges filed against the person, such as resisting arrest or possession of illegal drugs
  • The law enforcement agency that made the arrest
  • Bail or bond information
  • The court that tried the case
  • The disposition of the case, including any plea deals, convictions, or acquittals
  • Any sentencing information, including fines, probation, or jail time served
  • Information related to the release of the person, including the date of release and conditions of release

Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reflected in the VC section 2.2-3706, residents of the Commonwealth and members of the media can access public documents, including arrest records, kept by public bodies and officials.

However, there are exemptions when accessing arrest records in the state. Some exemptions include records related to ongoing investigations and those that would violate an individual's privacy rights and jeopardize law enforcement activities.

What Laws Govern Arrests in Virginia?

The VC Title 19.2 Chapter 7 governs the arrest in Virginia.

Under Virginia law, law enforcement officers must obtain an arrest warrant before taking a person into custody unless they witness the commission of a crime or have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a felony or a misdemeanor that involves violence or a threat of violence.

A Virginia judge, magistrate, or court clerk may issue an arrest warrant when there is probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime. The warrant must be supported by an affidavit or sworn statement, which outlines the facts and circumstances that give rise to probable cause for the arrest.

The affidavit or sworn statement must include specific information about the alleged crime, such as the offense's date, time, location, and any evidence supporting the claim. It must also include information about the person to be arrested, including their name, physical description, and any known addresses or other identifying information.

When making an arrest, law enforcement officers in Virginia must use force, but the amount of force used must be reasonable. After an arrest, the law enforcement officer must inform the person arrested of their Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and an attorney.

In addition, law enforcement officers must be aware of any specific warrant limitations or requirements. For example, the warrant may demand the arrested person to appear before a specified court or magistrate at a given time.

Finally, the arrest warrants must comply with the U.S. Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

What Is the Arrest Booking Process in Virginia?

The specific steps of the arrest booking process in Virginia may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the arrest circumstances. But in most cases, the following steps are taken when someone is arrested and booked in Virginia:

Suspect Physical Search and Inventory

The arresting officer will physically search the suspect to ensure they do not have any weapons or contraband. Any items found will be documented and kept as evidence. The officer will also inventory any personal property the suspect has in their possession.

The person arrested will not have access to their cell phones, money, credit cards, etc.

Fingerprints and Mugshot

The arresting officer will take the suspect's fingerprints and mugshot as part of the booking process.

Criminal Background Check

The arresting officer will also conduct a criminal background check to determine whether the suspect has outstanding warrants or a criminal history.

Once the arrested person has a criminal record, the crime information will be forwarded to a countrywide criminal database to see whether the arrested individual is sought for further offenses.

Medical Assessment

The suspect will undergo a medical assessment to determine if they have any medical conditions or injuries that require treatment.

Processing and Documentation

The arresting officer will document the arrest by completing a police report and other necessary paperwork. The officer will record the suspect's personal information, charges, and other relevant details.

Bail Determination

Depending on the charges' severity and criminal history, the suspect may be eligible for bail. A judge will set the amount of bail required for the suspect's release, payable in cash or through a bail bond agency.

Transfer to Jail or Court

After booking, the arresting officer will transfer the suspect to jail or the courthouse to await trial. The officer will detain the suspect in custody until their court appearance or release on bail.

What Are Virginia Mugshot Records?

Often part of the Virginia Arrest Records, mugshot records are official records that contain photographs, personal information, and arrest details of individuals arrested and booked into a Virginia law enforcement agency's custody.

These records typically include the individual's name, date of birth, gender, race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, and the charges they face.

Law enforcement agencies in Virginia collect mugshots during the booking process for identification purposes.

Mugshot records do not necessarily indicate guilt or criminal activity and should only be viewed as public records for identification purposes.

Most mugshot records in Virginia that resulted in convictions are obtainable through VSP Civil & Applicants Records Exchange (CARE). It provides criminal records information, including mugshots, for a fee.

Furthermore, some online databases in Virginia may offer mugshot records from various law enforcement agencies across the state. These databases may include the Offender Locator for inmate records and Sex Offender Registry for sex offender records in Virginia.

Mugshot records may also be available at the local law enforcement agency that booked the individual into custody. You can contact the agency directly to request the records.

There may be restrictions on who can access Virginia mugshot records, especially if it is part of an ongoing criminal investigation or the individual's charges have been dropped, dismissed, or expunged.

How Long Does an Arrest Record Stay in Virginia?

Virginia law doesn't specify arrest record preservation periods. Therefore, law enforcement organizations adhere to the timelines established by legal, departmental, and management regulations.

Generally, the retention policy may depend on whether the offense was a felony or a misdemeanor, whether the person had completed all the penalties imposed, or whether the related court matter has been dismissed.

Most in-charge agencies maintain arrest records until the individual reaches the age of 100. They may prolong the preservation time for records about an escaped convict, sexual offense, murder, or juvenile criminal.

However, if arrested but not convicted of a crime or the court dismissed the charges, you may have your record expunged. Expungement allows individuals to have their arrest records erased or sealed from public view.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record in Virginia?

Expungement of Virginia Arrest Records means that the arrest record is removed from official government records and is no longer publicly available. It is vital for individuals arrested but not convicted of a crime since the arrest record can still show up in background checks and impact employment, housing, and other opportunities.

In recent years, expungement of an arrest record that resulted in a conviction is impossible in Virginia. But the General Assembly of Virginia created a new expungement statute in 2021, which will take effect in 2025,  that expands eligibility to include certain criminal convictions.

Following the appropriate waiting time and compliance with particular requirements, it will be possible to seal Class 5 and Class 6 felonies and theft felonies after July 1, 2025. Generally, you must wait ten years after your conviction and be felony-free within that period.

Furthermore, the law makes expungement automatic for the following misdemeanors:

  • Concealment
  • Marijuana possession
  • Instigating trespass by others
  • Trespass on posted property
  • Trespass after having been forbidden
  • Petit larceny
  • Underage alcohol possession
  • Disorderly conduct

If you do not have any arrest or conviction records in Virginia within three years, the court will automatically delete the misdemeanor record.

Expungement of arrest records without convictions and those with certain misdemeanors will be automatic in Virginia on July 1, 2025.

But individuals arrested before the effectivity and those not eligible for automatic expungement on July 2025 must file a petition with the court in the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. The petition must include specific information about the arrest, charges, and case disposition.

The court will review the petition and may hold a hearing before deciding on whether to grant the expungement.

How To Search Virginia Arrest Records?

There are numerous methods on how you can search for Virginia Arrest Records.

First, you can ask the local sheriff's office. Call or visit the official website of the appropriate department for specific or accurate methods of acquiring these records.

Some offices, like the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, have online forms to complete and send.

Others, like Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department and the Northampton County Sheriff's Department, have printable record request forms you can mail, email, or bring in person.

A few offices only allow in-person visits before they give you the records.

Another option to get information from an arrest record in Virginia is to send a FOIA request to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. In this department, you can request records by mail, fax, email, in person, or over the phone.

Moreover, criminal records in Virginia give a complete picture of a person's arrest history in the state. Therefore, requesting a criminal record is another excellent method in searching for Virginia Arrest Records.

The best resource to get a copy of a criminal record in Virginia is through the CARE of VSP (the link is in the "What Are Virginia Mugshot Records" of this page). Typically, you must fill out an SP-167 request form and send your request through mail.

If you cannot find the arrest record you need using the methods above, you may need to contact the local police department where the arrest occurred. They may provide you with additional information or records.

In most circumstances, you will often need the person arrested's name, arrest date, booking number, or case number to get an arrest record. Also, the record provider usually charges a fee for copies, which you can pay in cash, check, or money order.


Counties in Virginia

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