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Virginia Court Records

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Where to Find Virginia Inmate Records 

Virginia inmate records are formal documents containing personal and administrative information of offenders detained in detention and correctional centers (prisons and jails). They are created when a person is arrested by local law enforcement such as the police or sheriff’s department. The agencies essentially record the arrest details such as the individual’s name, crime information, physical description, address, etc. Eventually, every contact the offender has with the state criminal justice system will be documented, including sentencing and incarceration in the state prison, and this makes up an offender’s inmate record. The records are compiled, stored, updated, and disseminated by the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC). The department monitors and manages the operations of all state prisons through regional offices across the state. Their database of information is accessible to the public and searchable online.

Are Incarceration Records Public Information in Virginia? 

Yes, incarceration or inmate records in Virginia are public information accessible on request. According to  Act, § 2.2-3700, et. seq. of the Code of Virginia,  the citizens of Virginia are guaranteed access to public records generated and distributed by state public bodies and their officials. As a result, inmate records maintained by VADOC are available to members of the public on request.

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 person resides in or was accused in. 

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

What Information is Contained in a Virginia Inmate Record? 

Typically, a Virginia inmate record contains personal identifying information about the inmate. This information documents the offender’s location and status at a specific time. Such information includes:

  • Inmate’s full name and known aliases,
  • Inmate’s DOC number
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Current facility of incarceration
  • Age
  • Mugshot/photograph
  • Details of the crime of conviction such as arrest date, sentencing details, and expected release date.

Where do I Look Up an Inmate in Virginia? 

Information about individuals incarcerated in Virginia penitentiary is part of their criminal records. Hence, they are accessible in multiple ways, including the following:

How Do I Conduct an Inmate Search in Virginia?

Inquirers seeking inmate records in Virginia can conduct searches on multiple platforms. Electronic inmate searches can be conducted on the  Virginia Department of Corrections website using the inmate locator feature. Alternatively, they can request physical copies of the records by sending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in person, by mail, email, fax, and over the phone. 

Generally, the VADOC offender locator tool provides basic and superficial information about inmates. Still, additional information can be requested by contacting the regional offices or the facility where the inmate is incarcerated. If the offender is in state prison, the request should be directed to the facility’s Warden or Superintendent. Otherwise, if the offender is detained in county jail, the local law enforcement will help locate the offender. The local sheriff’s departments manage many county jails across the state. Many of them have searchable databases similar to the VADOC offender locator that can be used to find inmates. In the absence of a local searchable website, under the state FOIA, the inquirer may request offender information directly from the sheriff’s office or the county jail where the offender is detained. 

Similarly, the state prisons and other state correctional facilities maintain information on every prisoner or offender they monitor. This is retrievable by querying the facilities for information via means that they provide, and according to state FOIA guidelines. For instance, some prisons may provide the requested information over the phone, while some may prefer to respond to inquiries via mail. 

VADOC may also provide more extensive jail records on request to members of the public. Interested individuals may contact the department directly from the website or by calling and sending mail requests to:

Virginia Department of Corrections

P.O. Box 26963

Richmond, VA 23261

Phone: (804) 674-3000

State court records also contain court decisions and orders concerning offenders detained in a state detention facility. Hence, inquirers may visit the sentencing court to request inmate records from the Clerk of Court with the court’s FOIA form. The state judiciary website provides comprehensive locational information of courts in the state, including their locations, contact information, and websites.

How Can I Find an Inmate for Free in Virginia? 

In most cases, reviewing or inspecting inmate information in Washington is free, but payment is often required for copying and duplication. For instance, inmate searches can be conducted for free on the  Virginia Department of Corrections website using the available inmate locator feature. Users can search the database using offender name or offender identification number. They may also provide additional information such as the offender’s known aliases, offender’s middle name, location, expected release date, age, gender, and race for specific and streamlined results. The search results will show all information available on the offender, including the facility where they are currently being held in the state and the offender’s photograph. 

Also, the Virginia Judicial System provides online access to court records containing details of the court’s decisions on an incarcerated offender. The extensive website provides users with different means to search for and inspect court records from Circuit and District Courts. Generally, electronic searches and phone requests for inmate records are usually free. Payment is only required when the inquirer requests for copies of the records to be made.

How to Find Old Inmate Records in Virginia?

Although no specific information is provided on locating old inmate records in Virginia, there are several options for acquiring such information. Generally, an inquirer may use the locator feature to find inmate records of present and former inmates in the state. However, for older records that do not show up in the database and additional offender information, the requester may contact the regional department office or the facility where the inmate was incarcerated. 

To ease the search process, the inquirer is advised first to determine the exact facility where the inmate was incarcerated. This is achievable by consulting the court records of the conviction or requesting the offender’s criminal records from The Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE). However, it is important to note that access to criminal records is restricted to only qualified individuals and entities with the State Police’s approval.

How do I Find Inmate Death Records in Virginia? 

Inmate death records in Virginia are primarily maintained by the correctional facility where the inmate was incarcerated and pronounced dead. Depending on the information’s sensitivity and the inmate’s request before death, the department may or may not provide full information on an inmate’s death records.

Also, on a special request to the VADOC’s Administrative Compliance Manager, additional information such as inmate death records that is not provided in the offender locator may be accessible. Provided the investigation of the occurrence is complete, copies of the medical examiner’s reports will be released according to Title 32 and Chapter 8 of the Virginia codes.

Besides, if the requester is legally entitled to obtaining copies of the death record, they can be retrieved from the Registrar in the city or county of death or the Division of Vital Records.

How do I Conduct a Federal Prison Inmate Search? 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website maintains inmate records of federal correctional facilities. The platform provides locational information for each facility maintained by the federal government. It features an inmate locator, instrumental to finding any federal inmate imprisoned from 1982 till date present. These searches can be conducted by name or by number. To search for an inmate by name, the user will be required to provide the inmate’s identification number. For name searches, users must provide the inmate’s full name (first, middle, and last names), race, gender, and age.

How Long Does it Take For An Inmate’s Information to Be Published in Virginia Inmate Locator?

In most cases, inmates who are to be detained in a state-run correctional facility are usually documented in the VADOC database within 60 days after the court gives its final sentencing order. Typically, the department must first receive an original copy of the court’s sentencing order before an inmate’s documentation process can commence. Therefore, the time frame may be occasionally affected by the sentencing court’s delay or promptness in sending the order to the department.

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