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Virginia Court Records

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Virginia Arrest Records

In Virginia, an arrest occurs when a police officer takes a person into custody in relation to a criminal offence. The arrestee's personal details, mugshot, fingerprint, as well as the arrest location and alleged offense, are typically documented and compiled into what is known as the Virginia arrest record. 

Virginia arrest records are documents generated by Virginia criminal justice agencies containing identifiable descriptions of offenders and notations of arrests, detentions, formal charges like indictments, and disposition. These records are maintained by City Police Departments, County Sheriff's Offices, and the Virginia State Police (VSP). 

Arrest records are public information in Virginia. Hence, anyone can request to view or copy them from the custodian law enforcement agency. 

The Virginia State Police 2022 report revealed approximately 195,959 arrests for both Group A and Group B offenses. Arrests for Group A offenses totaled 87,097, while those for Group B totalled 108,871. About 72% (141,055) of the arrested persons were males, while the remaining 28% (54,904) were females. The highest number of arrests (60,150) was recorded among individuals between 25 and 34. Furthermore, about 14,429 arrests were made for drug/narcotics and equipment violations that same year.

Are Arrest Records Public in Virginia?

Yes. Under the Virginia Public Records Act, residents of the Commonwealth can access arrest records kept by law enforcement agencies. However, the provisions of this Act are not absolute, and some arrest records are excluded from disclosure in the state. Some examples of confidential arrest records in Virginia are as specified by (Virginia Code § 2.2-3706):

  • Juvenile arrest records;
  • Arrest records of sex offenders;
  • The identity of any victim or witness relating to an arrest;
  • Criminal investigative documents and information like notes, photographs, complaints, memoranda, diagrams, correspondence, maps, reports, court orders, witness statements, and evidence.

What is Included in Virginia Arrest Records?

Virginia arrest records provide information about the arrestee as well as details of the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Specifically, these records contain:

  • Arrestee's identifying information (first and last name, age, mugshot, residential address, and date of birth);
  • Arrestee's physical description ( sex, race, height, weight, and color of hair and eyes;
  • Offense details (Offense date, jurisdiction and description, and the code of law violated);
  • Arrest and booking details (The arrest date, time, and location; booking photo, date and time);
  • Arresting agency's name and location;
  • Charge information (arrest charge and statute description);
  • The specific crime committed;
  • Incident and warrant numbers;
  • Court date and bond.

Find Public Arrest Records in Virginia

Interested members of the public may find public arrest records from state and local law enforcement agencies in Virginia. However, there is no central method or means to access these records. Notwithstanding, the following steps are relevant for obtaining arrest records from any law enforcement agency in Virginia: 

  • Step 1: Identify the records custodian: Arrest records are maintained by City/County Police Departments, County Sheriff's Offices, and the Virginia State Police. Therefore, individuals must determine which agency is in custody of their desired record. If the city/county of the arrest is known, the requester can call or email the Police Department or Sheriff's Office in that city/county to inquire if a specific record is in their custody. Typically, individuals can call or email the state police to direct them to the custodian of a particular record. 
  • Step 2: Determine the records request procedures: The process of requesting arrest records differs with the record custodian. Therefore, individuals would have to review the arrest record request procedures provided by the agency before initiating a request. When such information is unavailable on a custodian's website, inquirers may contact the agency by phone, fax, or email to inquire about the request procedure for retrieving an arrest record.
  • Step 3: Submit the request: There are various methods of submitting arrest records requests in Virginia. Most law enforcement agencies have arrest logs, reports, or inmate search portals that can be used to view a person's arrest information in minutes. Other request submission methods are by phone, email, mail, fax, or in person. The Virginia State Police permits individuals to submit their arrest records request by mail or drop off. 
  • Step 4: Pay the necessary fees: Record staff charge fees for copies of arrest records. Therefore, individuals should contact the agency to learn their fee schedule. Note that arrest records request fees vary by agency. For example, the Henrico County Police Division charges $5 for arrest records requests, while the City of Fairfax Police Department charges $10 for the same service. 

During a ligation, a court clerk can issue a subpoena that orders a law enforcement agency to produce a confidential arrest record in its possession at the trial. The subpoena can be served by mail or in person. The agency has less than 14 days to respond to the subpoena.

How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in Virginia

Individuals can look up Virginia arrest records online on government and through third-party databases. Most law enforcement agencies in Virginia publish arrest information on their websites at no charge. These online resources have different names, like arrest logs, arrest reports, or arrest blotter, and are available daily or weekly. For example, the Winchester Police Department provides access to Daily Arrest Logs on its website, while the City of Fairfax Police Department updates its Arrest Report weekly. 

Alternatively, requesters can consider using third-party online databases to look up Virginia arrest records. Most third-party sites allow requesters to search by the arrestee's first or last name initially. Other information about the arrestee, like middle name, age, and city, would be required to narrow the search. Access to basic arrest information through third-party databases is usually free. However, a small fee may be required for an extensive search or downloading arrest records. 

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in Virginia?

Arrests remain on a person's record forever unless they are expunged. However, Virginia law enforcement agencies have a record retention schedule consistent with the Virginia Code and the Library of Virginia Retention and Disposition Schedule. Below are some arrest records and their scheduled retention period in Virginia:

  • Adult arrest files would remain on record 100 years after birth; 
  • The arrest file of an adult whose death has been reported to the agency would be removed a year after notification;
  • Juvenile arrest files remain on record 23 years after birth;
  • Arrest logs and books are kept for 5 years after the last action;
  • The arrestee's personal property inventory remains on record for 3 years after the creation;
  • Records of properties confiscated during arrests remain on record for 3 years after last action;
  • Unexecuted arrest warrants are not recorded.

Expunge an Arrest Record in Virginia

An expungement is the removal of Virginia arrest records from official government records. This makes such records no longer publicly available. The expungement of an arrest record is vital to prevent an innocent citizen's hindrances to employment, housing, and education (Virginia Code § 19.2-392.1). Per Virginia Code § 19.2-392.2, only arrested persons acquitted of a crime or whose charges are dismissed can file a petition to expunge their arrest records. The petitioner must file a Petition for Expungement Form with the city or county Circuit Court where the case was handled. 

A copy of the petition shall be served to the prosecuting attorney of the city or county where the petition is filed. The attorney is expected to respond to the petition within 21 days after the service. The petitioner must provide a copy of their petition to a law enforcement agency and obtain a complete set of their fingerprints. The law enforcement agency will submit the fingerprints with a copy of the petition for expungement to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE). The CCRE will forward a copy of the petitioner's criminal history under seal to the court, the fingerprints, and a copy of the source documents that resulted in the CCRE entry that the petitioner wishes to have removed. The court will conduct a hearing after receiving the criminal history record information from the CCRE. The court can either approve or deny the petition. If the court approves the expungement, an order will be entered. Upon the entry of an order of expungement, the clerk of the court will forward a copy of such order to the Department of State Police, which would direct how the expungement would be handled. 

How Do I Find Recent Arrests in Virginia?

Depending on the law enforcement agencies in charge of the arrest records, there are different ways of finding recent arrests in Virginia. Typically, requests for recent arrests can be made online, by mail, by phone, or in person at the record custodian's office. For example:

  • County Sheriff's Offices: Some have online portals where individuals can find basic information about an arrested person. For example, the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office provides a list of Recent Arrests on its website. Most sheriff's offices have local criminal history check forms that individuals can use to access recent arrests. For example, interested persons can download the Criminal History Record Check form and submit it in person at any of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office locations
  • County/City Police Departments/Divisions: Individuals can request recent arrest records online, ​​by phone, email, mail, fax, or in person at City/County Police Departments. For example, the Henrico County Police Division provides recent arrest records online, by phone at (804) 501-4809, by mail, or in person.  
  • Virginia State Police (VSP): Members of the public can find recent arrest records maintained by the VSP by submitting a Criminal History Records Check (SP-167) form by mail. Certain agencies must submit a Criminal History Records Check (SP-230) form to make similar requests. The process of retrieving arrest records from the VSP cannot be expedited, and there is no same-day service. The turnabout time is usually 15 days. 
  • Circuit Courts: Individuals can find recent arrests on the Circuit Court Case Management System. The search criteria are by name, case number, or hearing date. Note that a County Circuit Court must be selected to initiate a search. Arrest records can also be retrieved by mail or at the city or by scheduling a visit to the county Circuit Court office. 

Are Virginia Arrest Records Free?

Most County Sheriff's Offices and City/County Police Departments provide access to arrest records free of charge. Some Police Departments have downloadable arrest logs/reports on a dedicated web page where individuals can find a list of citizens' arrest information. Conversely, others have search boxes where requesters can enter an arrest date or name to view arrest records for free. Alternatively, individuals can find arrest records on third-party aggregate websites. A typical third-party site will offer basic arrest information for free while locking extensive information behind a paywall. In most cases, a name and location will be required to initiate the search process, but more information may be required to complete the search.

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Virginia Arrest Records