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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 6. Criminal Justice and Corrections
Agency 20. Department of Criminal Justice Services
Chapter 120. Regulations Relating to Criminal History Record Information Use and Security
8/14/2020

6VAC20-120-50. Dissemination.

A. Authorization.

1. No criminal justice agency or individual shall confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of a criminal history record to persons or agencies that would not be eligible to receive the information. No dissemination of a criminal history record is to be made to a noncriminal justice agency or individual if an interval of one year has elapsed from the date of arrest and no disposition of the charge has been recorded and no active prosecution of the charge is pending.

2. Criminal history record information or portions of an individual's record both maintained and used by criminal justice agencies and eligible recipients, maintained either at the Central Criminal Records Exchange or by the originating criminal justice agency, or both, shall only be disseminated as provided by § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia.

3. Upon receipt of a request for criminal history record information, by personal contact, mail, or electronic means from an agency or individual claiming to be authorized to obtain such information, the person responding to the request shall determine whether the requesting agency or individual is authorized to receive criminal history record information.

4. Criminal justice agencies shall determine what positions in their agency require regular access to criminal history record information as part of the position's job responsibilities. These positions will be exempt from the provisions of subsection B of this section. Use of criminal history record information by a member of a criminal justice agency not occupying a position authorized to receive criminal history record information, or for a purpose or activity other than one for which the person is authorized to receive criminal history record information, will be considered a dissemination and shall meet the provisions of this section. If the user of criminal history record information does not meet the procedures in subsection B of this section, the use of the information will be considered an unauthorized dissemination.

5. The release of criminal history record information to an individual or entity not included in § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia is unlawful and unauthorized. An individual or criminal justice agency that releases criminal history record information to a party which does not clearly belong to one of the categories of agencies and individuals authorized to receive the information as outlined in § 19.2-389 is subject to being denied access to state and national criminal history record information on a temporary or permanent basis and to the administrative sanctions described in 6VAC20-120-100. Unlawful dissemination contrary to the provisions of this chapter is also a Class 2 misdemeanor (see § 9.1-136 of the Code of Virginia).

B. Procedures for responding to requests. A criminal justice agency disseminating criminal history record information shall adhere to the following provisions:

1. Allowable responses to requests. Local and regional criminal justice agencies may respond to requests for criminal history record information in two ways:

a. For offenses required to be reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE), they shall refer the requester to the Central Criminal Records Exchange, which will directly provide the requester with the information. (See § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia.)

When an inquiry to the exchange is not made, the record provided by the local law-enforcement agency should be accompanied by an appropriate disclaimer indicating that the record may not be complete.

b. For nonreportable offenses (i.e., those offenses not reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange), the law-enforcement agency shall provide the information requested, following the dissemination procedures as required by subdivisions 2 through 8 of this subsection.

2. Prior to dissemination. Prior to disseminating criminal history record information a criminal justice agency shall:

a. Verify requester identity.

(1) Individual requester. For an individual requesting his own record and not known to the person responding to the request, the individual shall provide proper identification, to include at least two of the following, one of which must be a photo identification: (i) a valid passport, (ii) drivers' license with photo, (iii) social security card, (iv) birth certificate, (v) military identification, or (vi) state issued identification card with photo, if there is more than one name match. Fingerprints or other additional information shall be required if the disseminating criminal justice agency deems it appropriate or necessary to ensure a match of the record and the requesting subject.

(2) Criminal justice agencies. For personnel of criminal justice agencies requesting a record, the requester shall provide valid agency identification unless the disseminator recognizes the requesting individual as having previously been authorized to receive the information for the same purpose.

(3) Noncriminal justice agencies or individuals. For an individual requesting the record of another, as in the case of an attorney requesting the record of his client, the individual shall provide a sworn written request from the record subject naming the requester as a recipient, as provided in subsection A of § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia. The written request shall include the full name, date of birth, race, and sex of the record subject. Identification of the attorney or individual shall also be required unless the attorney or individual is known to the official responding to the request.

b. Verify record subject identity. Because serious harm could come from the matching of criminal history record information to the wrong individual, verification procedures shall be carefully managed, particularly when dissemination will be to noncriminal justice recipients. The following information shall be reviewed to verify the record subject's identity:

(1) The full name, date of birth, race, and sex of the record subject. Fingerprint identification may be required prior to dissemination if there is any doubt as to the match. If a criminal justice agency does not have the capability to classify fingerprints, it may submit them by mail to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Only when the information supplied and the information in the Central Criminal Records Exchange or local files satisfactorily match shall information be disseminated.

(2) Criminal history record information which reasonably corresponds to the name, aliases, and physical identity of the subject can be disseminated to a legitimate requester when time is of the essence or if criminal justice interests will be best served by the dissemination. This includes the dissemination of records with similar but not identical name spellings, similar physical characteristics, and similar but not identical aliases. When criminal history record information is obtained in this manner and results in an apparent match between the identity of the subject and the record, the criminal history record should be verified using fingerprint identification prior to prosecution, adjudication or sentencing of the record subject. If a criminal justice agency does not have the capability to classify fingerprints, it may submit them by mail to the Central Criminal Records Exchange.

c. Notify requester of costs and restrictions. The official responsible for aiding the requester shall notify the requester of the costs involved and of restrictions generally imposed on use of the data, or be reasonably assured that the requester is familiar with the costs and restrictions, prior to beginning the search for the requested criminal history record information and shall obtain the consent of the requester to pay any charges associated with the dissemination.

3. Locating and disseminating information requested. Once a request for a criminal history record has been made, and the responsible official is satisfied as to the legitimacy of the request and the identity of the subject and has informed the requester of costs and restrictions, the responsible official conducting the search for the record shall supply the information contained in the local files on offenses not required to be reported to the Central Criminal records Exchange (see § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia).

4. Instructions regarding dissemination to requesters. The disseminated record must be accompanied by the message "UNAUTHORIZED DISSEMINATION WILL SUBJECT THE DISSEMINATOR TO CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIES" in printed form, for the following requesters:

a. Record subjects. Record subjects have a right to receive and disseminate their own criminal history record information, subject to this chapter and subdivision 11 of § 19.2-389 of the Code of Virginia. If a record subject or his attorney complies with the requirements of this section, he shall be given the requested criminal history record information. However, if an agency or individual receives a record from the record subject, that agency or individual shall not further disseminate the record.

b. Criminal justice agencies.

c. Noncriminal justice agencies and individuals other than record subjects. Even with the sworn consent of the record subject, only criminal history record information that is conviction data shall be disseminated to a noncriminal justice agency or an individual in compliance with the existing laws and shall not be disseminated further.

5. Maintaining a dissemination log. A record of all secondary disseminations shall be maintained at the disseminating criminal justice agency or shall be accessible electronically for a period of at least two years from the date of the dissemination.

The dissemination log must list all requests for criminal history record information. The log may be automated or manual.

Records will include the following information on each dissemination:

a. Date of inquiry;

b. Requesting agency name and address or the agency ORI;

c. Identifying name and number (either FBI or state identification number of record subject, or notification of "no record found");

d. Name of requester within the agency requesting criminal history record information; and

e. Name of disseminator (officer or civilian who provides the criminal history record information to the requester).

6. Reporting unauthorized disseminations. While individual criminal justice agencies are not expected to audit agencies that receive criminal history record information that they provide, in order to identify unauthorized releases, individual criminal justice agencies shall notify the department of any violations observed of this section. The department will investigate and respond to the violation in a manner deemed appropriate by the department.

A criminal justice agency that knowingly fails to report a violation may be subject to immediate audit of its entire dissemination log to ensure that disseminations are being appropriately managed.

7. Interstate dissemination. Interstate dissemination of criminal history record information shall be subject to the procedures described in this section. Dissemination to an agency outside of the Commonwealth shall be carried out in compliance with Virginia law and this chapter, as if the agency were within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.

8. Fees. Criminal justice agencies may charge a reasonable fee for search and copying time expended when dissemination of criminal history record information is requested by a noncriminal justice agency or an individual. The criminal justice agency shall post the schedule of fees to be charged and shall obtain approval from the requester to pay such costs prior to initiating the search.

C. Limitations on use. Use of criminal history record information disseminated to noncriminal justice agencies shall be limited to the purposes for which the information was given and may not be disseminated further.

Statutory Authority

§§ 9.1-102 and 9.1-131 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR240-02-1 § 2.3, eff. April 1, 1986; amended, Volume 06, Issue 04, eff. January 1, 1990; Volume 10, Issue 07, eff. February 1, 1994; Volume 33, Issue 03, eff. November 4, 2016.

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