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Are Criminal Records Public In Virginia?

According to § 19.2–389 of the Code of Virginia, Virginia criminal records are not public records and are, therefore, unavailable to the public for inspection or copying. However, the following persons are some of those permitted by law to access Virginia records:

  • Authorized employees or officers of criminal justice agencies for the administration of criminal justice purposes and to screen employment applications or to review the employment of the agency’s employees or applicants
  • Any individual or agency that needs the criminal record to implement a federal or state statute or executive order of the President or Governor
  • Any individual or agency under an agreement with a criminal justice agency to render services needed for the administration of criminal justice
  • Any individual or agency for the specific purpose of research, statistical, or evaluative activities under an agreement with a criminal justice agency
  • Agencies of federal or state government that are authorized to conduct investigations to determine employment suitability
  • Individuals and agencies authorized by court rule or court order

Virginia criminal records are available from different law enforcement agencies. However, the Virginia Department of State Police, Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE), is the central repository for Virginia criminal records. Interested persons may also obtain criminal records from the County Sheriff’s Offices and police departments.

What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Virginia?

Virginia criminal records are official documents detailing a person’s criminal activities, including arrest, indictment, and conviction information from law enforcement agencies, as well as correctional and detention facilities. A Virginia criminal record generally contains the following details:

  • The subject’s full name as well as any known aliases
  • Identifying details such as gender, race, weight, and height
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • A mugshot
  • Information on previous criminal offenses, indictments, and convictions
  • Past and current warrants and arrest history

How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Virginia?

The Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) section of the Virginia Department of State Police is the central repository where interested persons can obtain Virginia criminal records. There are two methods of getting a Virginia criminal record, and each depends on who the requester is. Regardless of the method used, the Virginia Department of State Police accepts walk-in requests, as well as requests sent by mail.

Individuals and private companies requesting a Virginia criminal may download or print the SP–167 Criminal Record Name-Search Form. Complete the form and submit by mail or in-person to:

Virginia State Police Headquarters,

7700 Midlothian Turnpike,

North Chesterfield, VA 23235

Note, the form requires notarized signatures of the subject of the record and the requestor. The Department charges a fee of $15 to process each request made. The acceptable forms of payment are credit card, money order, certified check, and business check.

Generally, the Department takes 15 business days to process a form. If the request is an urgent one, mail the form in by next day air and include a next day air return envelope. Note that doing both is at the requester’s cost. For walk-in requests, provide two forms of ID as well the exact amount for payment in cash or money order.

The name search form only provides access to Virginia conviction information. To obtain arrest and charge details, submit the form along with a fingerprint card. The fingerprints may be taken at the State Police Headquarters located at the address above or at any of the State Police Division and Area Offices. Take along two valid forms of identification and payment. The fee of the first fingerprint card is $10, while any additional card costs $5 each. Make payment by cash or Visa/Mastercard.

On the other hand, authorized non-criminal justice agencies may request for a Virginia criminal record using an SP–230 Criminal Record Name-Search Form. Note that this form does not require a notarized signature. The same fee of $15 applies to obtain a copy of a Virginia criminal record using this form. Download or print the form and submit by mail or in-person to:

Virginia State Police Headquarters,

7700 Midlothian Turnpike,

North Chesterfield, VA 23235

Note that the agencies that may use the SP–230 Criminal Record Name-Search Form are:

  • Domestic/ International Adoptions & Foster Care Agencies
  • Adult Home Care Facilities
  • Cities/Counties Under a Duly Enacted Ordinance
  • Licensed Homes for Adults
  • Adult Day Care Centers
  • District Homes for Adults
  • Licensed Child Care Centers
  • Unlicensed Child Care Centers
  • Hospital Pharmacy Employees
  • Licensed Assisted Living Facilities

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Virginia?

The cost of requesting a Virginia criminal record is $15. The price remains the same regardless of who makes the request or the medium used. There is no provision for persons who cannot afford the fee to get a Virginia criminal record for free.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In Virginia?

Interested persons may obtain a Virginia criminal record from the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) by mail or in person. The Department has no database where people can access Virginia criminal records online. However, the Virginia Judiciary provides a website that allows users to search for criminal case files by name, case number, or hearing date.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Virginia?

Under the Code of Virginia § 19.2–392.2, eligible persons can petition the court to have their criminal records expunged. Expungement is only possible if any of the following conditions are met:

  • The accused was acquitted of all charges
  • The charge is dismissed, or a nolle prosequi was entered
  • The petitioner’s name and identity was used without consent by someone who was arrested or charged for the crime under consideration

A petitioner that meets any of these requirements may file a petition to expunge the records. The expunction petition is filed at the Circuit Court, where the case was heard. First, obtain the following documents from the Court Clerk:

  • Certified copy of the Warrant of Arrest and the case disposition
  • Certified documentation of each of the charges

After obtaining the documents, prepare a petition that contains the above documents and the following details:

  • Petitioner’s full name as at the time of the arrest
  • The arresting agency
  • The date of the arrest
  • The exact criminal charge to be expunged
  • The charge’s date of final disposition
  • Petitioner’s date of birth
  • Petitioner’s Social Security Number
  • The case number of each of the charges
  • If the Warrant of Arrest is unavailable, state the reasons why it is unavailable
  • A statement that claims the petitioner is innocent of the charge(s)
  • Reason for seeking expungement

Make four copies of the petition and all the documents. Submit the complete petition to the clerk’s office with the applicable filing and serving fees. The filing fee varies across the various Circuit Courts in the state. Typically, the filing fee is about $84, while the standard fee for serving the petition in the state is $12. The original copy must be filed at the clerk’s office. However, the Clerk’s Office must date-stamp two of the copies and return to the petitioner. Send one of the copies to the local police department and keep the other for documentation.

The petitioner’s fingerprint will be collected at the police department. The essence of the fingerprint is for ordering the petitioner’s criminal history records form the Central Criminal Records Exchange, which is domiciled in Richmond. This service costs $13.

The Clerk’s Office is also saddled with the responsibility of preparing summons for serving the petition. As such, the Clerk’s Office must forward the remaining two copies of the petition to the Department of State Police (DSP). When received, the DSP serves the papers to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and files the “return of service” that officially notifies the court of the service.

Note that, if a District Court originally heard the case that is to be expunged, the Court Clerk will forward the petitions to the District Court for hearing.

It takes about a month for the Central Criminal Records Exchange to send a sealed copy of the petitioner’s criminal records to the Circuit Court. When received, the court becomes set to fix a hearing date and time. However, this is not automatic. Before the court sets a hearing date, the petitioner must send a “praecipe” to the Clerk’s Office to put the expungement petition in the court’s schedule.

In some counties in Virginia, the praecipe must be sent through the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Whichever the case, ensure to speak with a criminal or civil docket clerk to get the full procedure for filling the praecipe.

At the hearing, the court will determine whether the petition should be granted or not. A petitioner may even appear pro se if the case is not complicated. If the petition is granted, the case file with the Circuit Court gets expunged (sealed). The Circuit Court’s Clerk will send the judge’s signed order to the court where the case was initially heard, instructing that all the records pertaining to the case be expunged.

The order must also be sent to the Department of Criminal Justice Services and all concerned agencies to expunge the records as well. The Department of State Police may send a letter to the petitioner confirming the expungement. This process typically takes six months, after which the records will no longer be available to members of the general public.

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In Virginia?

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, sealing criminal records is the same as expunging criminal records. The two terms are used in the expungement laws interchangeably. Therefore, there is no separate provision for sealing a Virginia criminal record that is different from Virginia criminal record expungement.

Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In Virginia?

When a Virginia criminal record is expunged or sealed, it becomes unavailable to members of the general public. The petitioner cannot access the records as well. However, the expunged criminal record, though sealed, is to remain available in case the court decides to unseal it at a later date. The court may also grant access to an expunged Virginia criminal record to the attorney of the Commonwealth. This may be done if a law enforcement agency requires it for employment or investigative purposes.

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