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  1. #1
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    May 2020
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    Default Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    My question involves criminal records for the state of: Virginia

    Hi I am trying to obtain all records related to a criminal case in virginia that went to trial , ended up in a finding of guilty and its a life sentence case.
    In the index of cases in the court website I can find the case # and it also has brief explanations of significant days in court , such as "Discovery" or "Trial", "sentencing" but thats about it. I called the court and they said if I wanted any records I just had to tell them the exact name of the document I need from that particular case and I'm having a hard time with this part.
    What kind of documents should I request. I'm primarily interested with all info of evidence presented at trial.

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,670

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    The court sites only have the synopsis depending on the county. That's mostly used for scheduling and making sure the fines get paid.

    Since you've found that, you obviously know what where the charges where brought. You'll have to contact them. Can't vouch for all courts, but (at least before COVID hit), Fairfax required you to actually go to the courthouse to get the records. They would not arrange it over the phone. I had a tenant that got arrested (and ultimately convicted) for a bunch of felonies and I was trying to figure out just what the situation was (and whether I should be concerned).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,888

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    If you want to know what evidence was used at trial you can order a transcript of the trial. It is expensive but you will know what was used.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,354

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    What does "all records" mean? As in every scrap of paper that relates (no matter how tangentially) to this case, regardless of who has possession or control of that record? Or something more narrow than that (e.g., documents maintained in the court's file)?

    What is your purpose in seeking these records/what is the nature of your interest in the case?

    Are you seeking to inspect the evidence? If so, why?

  5. #5
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    Anything that is the court record is usually available by law. There's only very specific things that can be suppressed. "Evidence" is probably not in the possession of the court so you're not going to get to see that. You can generally get affidavits supporting the initial indictment and other filings, as well as the course and outcome of the trial. If there was no transcript generated yet, you're going to have to pay to have the tapes transcribed. Most anything else is a nominal copying fee. Again, I can't vouch for all the Commonwealth's court, but the few I've dealt with (Fairfax County and Loudoun) usually are pretty helpful if you go down to the courthouse. Of course, access to the courts is probably rather restricted right now due to COVID orders.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    4

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    thank you everyone for your responses.
    to flyingron: yes I technically could go to the court and print out what they have but I'm not in the state and because of covid the court is closed. which is why the court clerk was willing to email me what they had but she needs exact document names in order to look in the file.
    Budwad: yeah that was recommended too, I might do that at some point, but for now trying to get all records I can without having to go that far, I guess it is a final recourse.
    pg1067: I guess I meant more all important records, arrest warrant, discovery, sentencing, etc . I am a journalist and I'm investigating the case of an inmate who was sentenced to life. I would like to see the case file and if appropriate check in with experts and/or attorneys, depending on what is contained in the file, I'm somewhat aware of what was used to convict him but would like to see details, expert testimony etc.


    In the meantime I have written to the person convicted of the crime and hoping his defense attorney who represented him in the case might be willing to share what he has with me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    California
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    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    Just to clarify/correct one point of flyingron's post. If the evidence was admitted at trial, it IS in the possession of the court. It's a part of the trial record. If something is just marked for identification and not admitted as evidence, then it is returned to the party that introduced it at trial. To the OP, you have to pay for copies of anything and generally, you have to pay upfront so the clerk isn't going to just copy the file for you.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2010
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    19,670

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    Sorry, I disagree. In Virginia, with small exception, once the case is concluded and appeals are exhausted, evidence may be returned or destroyed after one year

  9. #9
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    Jun 2017
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    California
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    444

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    Not in all cases, not with all evidence and not without notice to counsel. The fact remains that the evidence is in the court's custody, even in VA. With a life case, the evidence produced and admitted at trial, it's likely that it is all still with the court.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    4

    Default Re: Obtaining Records of Criminal Case in Virginia

    I hope they still have the evidence. There were pretty big key types of evidence that was used, that have recently been brought into question nationally in regards to the scientific accuracy of these "types" of evidence and this particular case has a lot of it. I'm curious to take a look at it myself. Person maintained innocence throughout, still does. Not that accounts for much, anyone can claim innocence. But this person despite of all kinds of deals that were brought to him, always has maintained his innocence It went to trial and he got a life sentence.

    I'm aware Im going to have to pay for copies, money is not really an issue here, like I'm okay throwing an initial $100 in copies, the thing is the Clerck can only give me copies of documents I request by name.

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