Records and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Chapter 37 of Tile 2.2 of Virginia Code) allows for the inspection and copying of public records during the regular office hours of the custodian by:

  • any citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
  • representatives of newspapers and magazines with circulation in the Commonwealth, and
  • representatives of radio and television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth.

The Hanover County Sheriff's Office maintains the following types of reports: crash reports, crash photographs, incident reports, and crime statistics.  For records related to a 911 call, please contact Hanover County Emergency Communications at 804-365-6140.


Publicly Available Reports and Records Checks


Publicly available police reports and records may be obtained from the Hanover County Sheriff's Office Records Unit. 

The Records Unit is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to perform records checks, provide copies of accident and incident reports. The office is located in the Vaughn Bradley Building, 7522 County Complex Road, Hanover, Virginia 23069.  Phone: 804-365-6110

Services & Fees


Service
Fee
Local Record Check $6
Copy of Accident Report (No Fee for Victim) $6
Copy of Incident Report (No Fee for Victim) $6


How do I submit a Virginia FOIA request?



You may submit a records request by:
  • Email: Lieutenant Kerri Wright - klwright@hanovercounty.gov
  • Phone: Lieutenant Kerri Wright - 804-365-6107
  • In Person: Hanover County Sheriff's Office, 7522 County Complex Road, Hanover, VA 23069
  • Mail: Hanover County Sheriff's Office, PO Box 40, Hanover, VA 23069

What is required to make a Virginia FOIA request?

 
As allowed by Code of Virginia 2.2-3704, the Sheriff's Office can require that the requester provide their name and legal address. The law also requires the requester to identify the requested records with reasonable specificity. The Sheriff's Office is not required to create a new record in response to any Virginia FOIA request.


Fulfilling your request

The Hanover County Sheriff's Office will respond within five working days of receiving a request.  The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.  Virginia FOIA requires that the Sheriff's Office make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:

  • Provide the records requested in their entirety.
  • Withhold all of the records requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption.  If all of the records are being withheld, a response in writing will be sent with an explanation of the exemption.  That response will identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows the records to be withheld.
  • Provide some of the records requested, but withhold other records.  An entire record will not be withheld if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption.  In that instance, the portion of the record that may be withheld will be redacted, the remainder of the record will be provided.  A written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld will be sent.
  • Respond in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist.  However, if another public body has the requested records, contact information for the other public body will be included in the response.
  • If the Sheriff's Office cannot respond to a request within the five-day period, you will be informed in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible.  This will allow seven additional working days to respond a request, providing a total of 12 working days to respond to a request.

If a request for a very large number of records is made, and it is determined that it cannot be provide within 12 working days without disrupting other organizational responsibilities, the Sheriff's Office may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request.  However, Virginia FOIA requires that a reasonable effort be made to reach an agreement concerning the production or the records before going to court to ask for more time.

Exemptions


The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure.

The following public documents are exempt from release under Virginia Code 2.2-3705.1 and 2.2-3706:

  • Personnel records
  • Legal memoranda and written advice from legal counsel
  • Tests or examinations
  • Confidential administrative investigations
  • Background investigations of applicants
  • Complaints, memo’s, correspondence, case files, statements, evidence
  • Cell phone, pager, mobile device numbers of personnel

The Sheriff's Office may choose to withhold the following information:             

  • Identity of victims, witnesses
  • Identity of undercover officers
  • Investigative techniques
  • Identity of anonymous sources

The Sheriff's Office may temporarily withhold information that would:

  • Jeopardize an ongoing investigation
  • Jeopardize the safety of an individual
  • Cause a suspect to flee
  • Result in destruction of evidence


Costs



  • A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records.
  • No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body.
  • Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication.
  • All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.
  • If the estimated cost is more than $200, a deposit may be required (not to exceed the amount of the estimate), before proceeding with your request.  The five days to respond to a request does not include the time between a request for a deposit and a response from the requester.
  • Costs include items such as staff time, copying costs or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. It will not include general overhead costs.
  • If money is owed from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, the hanover County sheriff's Office may require payment of the past-due bill before responding to a new FOIA request.

Additional Information

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any general questions you may have about FOIA.  The Council may be contacted by email at foiacouncil@leg.state.va.us, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or (toll free) 1-866-448-4100.

2015 Virginia Freedom of Information Act