Chapter 37 of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia, also known as the Virginia Freedom of Information Act ensures that all government records, including criminal records, must be made public. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule: If the records have any relationship with any ongoing investigation, or if the dissemination of the records could put the subject’s life in jeopardy, or if the records contain any information regarding any ongoing undercover operation, or if the records are relevant to any juvenile offence, these records will not be made available to the public. The State of Virginia is very tolerant and open when it comes to allowing the citizenship performing criminal background checks.
The Criminal Record Check Section of the Virginia State Police is the entity responsible for managing all the criminal records requests, whether they come from private citizens, private companies, non profit institutions, public institutions or other law enforcement agencies. The way of performing such background checks is to present the proper form, downloadable form the Criminal Record Check Section’s website, in a notarized form, and to pay the appropriate fee, usually $15. As an interesting side note, there is no need to notify the subject of the record that their criminal history is being checked. The resulting report should include pictures, physical description, personal information on the offender as well as a list of offences committed and court orders. Citizens or companies who have the approval of the Virginia State Police may access the Criminal Record Exchange Section’s Non Criminal Justice Interface system by signing up and providing personal information, billing information and proof of the authorization. This system makes the whole criminal background checking process faster and more effective.
The Virginia Department of Corrections has an online Offender Locator tool, a search engine that allows the visitor locating any inmates in the State of Virginia. The locator allows searches by name or by offender ID number. Searches by name must include a full last name and at last the first two letters of the first name. The returned results are not complete records at all. If the search was made by name, and there are multiple possible results, the website shows a list of all potential candidates, indicating their full name, ethnicity, gender, inmate ID, institution where they are held up and release date. If the search was made by ID, or if the name was accurate enough to obtain only one result, the search engine returns a similar brief record, with very limited information. The records do not include pictures, physical description, date of birth or parole details. The Department of Corrections’ offender locator only gives away information relative to inmates under the custody of the department, excluding those on parole or probation. Learn more about the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Offender Locator by visiting their website.
The Virginia State Police oversees and manages the Virginia sex offender registry. The registry has a strong online presence, featuring a powerful search engine. The user can search by name, city, ZIP code, address or county. The returned records are exhaustive and complete, including picture, full name, known aliases, physical description, list of offences committed, address, work place and a map indicating the whereabouts of the offender, as well as some more relevant information. Visit the Virginia State Police website to check out the sex offender registry.