A criminal record is acquired in Virginia the first time a person is arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement personnel in the state. From then on, any additional arrests, convictions, and dispositions will be added to the person’s criminal record. The Virginia State Police Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) maintains the state’s central repository of criminal history information.
In Virginia, criminal record information is less accessible to the general public than in many other states. No searchable online database of criminal records is provided to the general public and any request to view a Virginia criminal record must be accompanied by a fingerprint card.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, any criminal record request must be accompanied by a fingerprint card. A person may request the criminal record of someone else, but must also submit that individual’s signed authorization and fingerprint card with the request.
What is included in a Virginia criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Virginia criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Virginia criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Pending charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record. Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person. They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public. In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:
- Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering.
- Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
- Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.
What is the difference between a Virginia arrest record and a Virginia criminal record?
While an arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
How do I request a criminal record in Virginia?
According to the Virginia State Police, there are two methods of obtaining a Virginia criminal record. However, one of these methods is available to approved Virginia agencies, only, leaving just one method available to the general public. In order for a member of the general public to request a Virginia criminal record, they must submit an SP-167 request accompanied by a fingerprint card and pay a variable fee.
Here’s how to request a criminal record in Virginia:
- Use this tool to create “Criminal Record Name Search” form SP-167. Fill out the form with all of the required information and print it out.
- Sign the SP-167 form and have it notarized.
- Have your fingerprints taken on a fingerprint card by visiting Virginia State Police Headquarters at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike, North Chesterfield, VA 23235 (or another Virginia State Police location offering the service). Click here for a list of required items to bring. There is a $10 fee.
- Note: Services have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so call ahead of time at (804) 674-2000 to ensure that you will be able to obtain a fingerprint card.
- Mail the SP-167 form, fingerprint card, and payment ($15 or $20) to:
Virginia State Police
P.O. Box 27472
Richmond, VA 23261
An SP-167 criminal record usually takes around 15 working days to process. If your request is taking longer than usual, you can contact the CJIS at [email protected].
How do I request the criminal record of someone else in Virginia?
Requesting the criminal record of another person follows the same process as described above, but the requester must also obtain the subject of the request’s authorized and notarized consent and fingerprint card and submit them along with the request form.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Virginia criminal record?
If a criminal record exists for the subject of a criminal record request, a hard copy will be mailed to the physical address listed on your request form.
Why can’t I access a Virginia criminal record?
In the case that a criminal record request yields a negative response it means that either you didn’t submit all of the required materials or that no criminal record exists for the person in Virginia.
How do I search for Virginia criminal case court records?
The Virginia Judiciary has recently rolled out the Online Case Information System 2.0, a search tool available to the general public that can be used to search criminal and traffic case court records from the state’s district courts and select circuit courts.
Users can search the database by:
- Case Number
- Hearing Date.
Does Virginia allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Unlike the majority of U.S. states, expunging a criminal conviction in Virginia is not possible. Currently, there is no means for a person to petition to have convictions removed from their criminal record in the state.
However, if an arrest results in a not guilty verdict or a dismissal, it may be possible to have the arrest removed from a criminal record. Consult with an attorney for further information.
How can I have false information on a Virginia criminal record corrected?
In the case of a Virginia criminal record having incorrect information, the Virginia State Police recommends that a person contact the law enforcement agency responsible for an arrest, or the court the processed the case, for instructions on how to have an error corrected.
How long are Virginia criminal records kept on file?
Unless a criminal charge is dismissed or results in a not guilty verdict, criminal record history information will remain on file indefinitely in Virginia.