Virginia Freedom of Information Act
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Virginia. Public records includes all documents, no matter their physical form, that are “prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business.”
Any citizen of Virginia may request public records, however Virginia does limit the right of incarcerated felons to request any records whatsoever. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not require a statement of purpose, nor are there any restrictions on the use of records. Virginia law requires open records request responses to be made within 5 business days.
The Virginia Open Meetings law, included in the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, legislates the method by which public meetings are conducted. The law states that a meeting is any gathering, whether in person or through the use of electronic communication, of at least three members of a public body or a quorum if it is less than three members whether or not a vote is taken. The gathering of public employees, chance or social gatherings, and public forums or debates are all exempt from the law. If violated, the court may assess fines between $250-$1,000 for the first offense.
Freedom of Information Act Virginia Freedom of Information Act: §§ 2.2-3700 – 2.2-3714
Exempt in records: Some criminal investigations; some police reports; tax returns; medical records; personnel matters; real estate; attorney client privilege exemptions; and working papers.
Closed in meetings: Terrorism activities precautions; some personnel matters, attorney consultations, real estate matters, student disciplinary matters, etc.
Visit, Virginia Sample FOIA Request, to view a sample FOIA request for the state.