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Q: Public records request in Virginia ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Public records request in Virginia
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: alekb-ga
List Price: $4.50
Posted: 31 Mar 2003 12:35 PST
Expires: 30 Apr 2003 13:35 PDT
Question ID: 183773
I want to obtain access to some public records from Virginia State
Police that are available under the Virginia Freedom of Information
Act ( ).  The
records I'm after would be available under this Act, except that I'm
not covered by the Act.

Section 2.2-3704-A of the Act states:
 2.2-3704. Public records to be open to inspection; procedure for
requesting records and responding to request; charges.

A. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all public
records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the
Commonwealth during the regular office hours of the custodian of such
records. Access to such records shall not be denied to citizens of the
Commonwealth, representatives of newspapers and magazines with
circulation in the Commonwealth, and representatives of radio and
television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth. The
custodian may require the requester to provide his name and legal
address. The custodian of such records shall take all necessary
precautions for their preservation and safekeeping.

My problem is that I'm not a "citizen of the Commonwealth" (I live in
a neighboring state), and I'm not a representative of any newspapers,
magazines, radio or television stations.

How can I gain access to those public records?  Are there are agencies
that would obtain those records for me for a reasonable fee?  Is there
any other reasonable way to access those records?

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 31 Mar 2003 12:39 PST
Do you know anyone in Virginia who would be willing to look for you?

Request for Question Clarification by justaskscott-ga on 31 Mar 2003 12:40 PST
When I say "look for you", I mean "look at the records, if you cannot do so".

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 31 Mar 2003 12:41 PST
Just ask for them.  the fact that they don't *have* to give them to
out-of-state folk doesn't mean they will automatically refuse your
request.  Ask first.  And if you can't get them, then figure out what
Plan B is.

Clarification of Question by alekb-ga on 31 Mar 2003 12:51 PST

No, I do not know anybody who I want to bother with this.

Clarification of Question by alekb-ga on 31 Mar 2003 12:53 PST

I did ask for access, but was denied based on the reasons above.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 03 Apr 2003 08:02 PST
You might want to give these folks a try -- they're a public records
retreival company in Virginia:

Let us know how it works out.

Clarification of Question by alekb-ga on 03 Apr 2003 10:22 PST

Thanks for info.  It's hard to say from their website if they can help
me, but I will certainly contact them and will let you know.  If it
works out - you got 5 stars.

Clarification of Question by alekb-ga on 09 Apr 2003 08:05 PDT
I ended up asking a friend who is eligible requesting the info.  

pafalafa, I believe the source you suggested would work too, so if you
post it as an answer, I'll be satisfied.
Subject: Re: Public records request in Virginia
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 09 Apr 2003 09:27 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for following up on this, and good luck in your quest for the

In addtion to the Amarisearch service at: 

there are many other document retrieval services that may be able to
access the records for you.  You can see a list of them at:

where you can search for document retrieval services by state or
alekb-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very helpful. Went where no other researcher wanted to go.

Subject: Re: Public records request in Virginia
From: tutuzdad-ga on 31 Mar 2003 17:12 PST
Federal Law supercedes state law and the Freedome of Information Act
is a Federal Law. No state can refuse you access to public records
based on a contradictory state statute alone.

Subject: Re: Public records request in Virginia
From: justaskscott-ga on 31 Mar 2003 19:30 PST
Re tutuzdad's comment:

I think that FOIA relates only to federal records.  If I am right
about that, then it would not supersede state laws about state
records.  (As Google Answers Researchers, we are not lawyers, so
perhaps consulting a lawyer is the best idea in this situation.)
Subject: Re: Public records request in Virginia
From: jwinnocent-ga on 02 Apr 2003 10:25 PST
What is the nature of the information? As a "citizen of the
Commonwealth", I might consider requesting it.

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