Police and Investigative Agencies (Confidentiality of Investigatitive Files)

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-15

Body worn and dashboard video recordings made by law enforcement are public records subject to FOIA. The application of exemptions from mandatory disclosure depends on the contents of the video. Duty to redact is in question following Virginia Supreme Court ruling in 2015.

Fitzgerald v. Loudoun County Sheriff's Office

In a proceeding under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, to obtain a copy of a suicide note contained in a criminal investigative file opened by a sheriff’s office under its lawful authority to investigate the unexpected and unattended death of a senior United States Air Force official, the sheriff had the discretion, but not the duty, to disclose documents within this file and eventual closure of the file did not change its character. Nor did the suicide note, standing alone, constitute a compilation subject to disclosure under Code § 15.2-1722(B). The judgment of the circuit court denying a writ of mandamus to compel disclosure of this document is affirmed.

Attorney General Opinion 14-063

"For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that local law enforcement agencies must disclose adult arrestee photographs pursuant to a valid FOIA request if they are contained in a database maintained by the local law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the defendant is still incarcerated or has been released, unless disclosing them will jeopardize a felony investigation. However, photographs may not be drawn from the Central Criminal Records Exchange for disclosure at any time to comply with a FOIA request.""For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that local law enforcement agencies must disclose adult arrestee photographs pursuant to a valid FOIA request if they are contained in a database maintained by the local law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the defendant is still incarcerated or has been released, unless disclosing them will jeopardize a felony investigation. However, photographs may not be drawn from the Central Criminal Records Exchange for disclosure at any time to comply with a FOIA request."

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-14

Suicide reports and related records may be withheld as criminal investigative files because suicide remains a crime in Virginia. To the extent it conflicts with this opinion, AO-10-03 is hereby rescinded.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-12

Considering three different records exemptions, an adult arrestee photograph (mug shot) may not be withheld as a noncriminal incident record; may be withheld if its release would jeopardize a felony investigation; and may be withheld if the subject depicted is also a witness.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-12

911 records are public records under FOIA. Whether any exemptions apply to 911 records must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-11

Adult arrestee booking photographs (mug shots) are public records subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-10

Records that have been entered into evidence and made part of the public record at a public hearing may not subsequently be withheld from disclosure as exempt records of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-08

FOIA provides that public bodies bear the burden of proof to establish an exemption by a preponderance of the evidence. However, FOIA is silent regarding whether a requester may challenge as an abuse of discretion a decision not to disclose records that are excluded from mandatory disclosure pursuant to a valid exemption, once the exemption has been established.

Attorney General's Opinion 2007 #027

List of concealed-carry gun permittees should be kept confidential by the state police because it might contain names of crime victims or witnesses.

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