Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 2.2. Administration of Government
2/19/2018

Part B. Department of Law.

Chapter 5. Department of Law.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 2.2-500. Attorney General to be chief executive officer; duties generally.

The Attorney General shall be the chief executive officer of the Department of Law, and shall perform such duties as may be provided by law.

Code 1950, § 2-85; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-117; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-501. Assistant and deputy Attorneys General.

The Attorney General shall appoint a chief deputy Attorney General and may appoint the necessary deputy Attorneys General and assistant Attorneys General and fix their salaries within the limitation of the funds provided for the purpose in the general appropriation act.

If a vacancy occurs in the office of Attorney General for any reason, the chief deputy Attorney General shall serve as acting Attorney General until such time as the vacancy is filled pursuant to § 24.2-213. The acting Attorney General shall exercise all the powers, and duties, and enjoy all the perquisites of the office of Attorney General as are provided by law.

Code 1950, § 2-94; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-130; 1977, c. 596; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-502. Support staff.

The Attorney General may appoint such persons as he deems necessary for the efficient conduct of his office, and apportion, out of the appropriation for his office, such salaries among such persons as he deems proper, but the aggregate amount paid them shall not exceed the amount provided by law.

Code 1950, § 2-95; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-131; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-503. Office space.

The Governor shall assign to the Attorney General office space for the Attorney General, his assistants and employees suitable for the transaction of the legal business of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 2-96; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-132; 1994, c. 64; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-504. Contingent and traveling expenses.

The Attorney General may expend for the contingent expenses of his office the sums appropriated for his office by the General Assembly. The Attorney General, the deputy and assistant Attorneys General, and other employees of the office shall be reimbursed for actual travel expenses in the performance of their duties in accordance with § 2.2-2823.

Code 1950, § 2-97; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-133; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-505. Official opinions of Attorney General.

A. The Attorney General shall give his advice and render official advisory opinions in writing only when requested in writing so to do by one of the following: the Governor; a member of the General Assembly; a judge of a court of record or a judge of a court not of record; the State Corporation Commission; an attorney for the Commonwealth; a county, city or town attorney in those localities in which such office has been created; a clerk of a court of record; a city or county sheriff; a city or county treasurer or similar officer; a commissioner of the revenue or similar officer; a chairman or secretary of an electoral board; or the head of a state department, division, bureau, institution or board.

B. Except in cases where an opinion is requested by the Governor or a member of the General Assembly, the Attorney General shall have no authority to render an official opinion unless the question dealt with is directly related to the discharge of the duties of the official requesting the opinion. Any opinion request to the Attorney General by an attorney for the Commonwealth or county, city or town attorney shall itself be in the form of an opinion embodying a precise statement of all facts together with such attorney's legal conclusions.

Code 1950, § 2-86; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-118; 1968, c. 414; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 155; 1976, c. 715; 1999, c. 14; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-506. Legal services to attorneys for the Commonwealth in certain proceedings; costs.

The Attorney General shall at the request of an attorney for the Commonwealth, provide legal service to such attorney for the Commonwealth in any proceedings brought against him seeking to restrain the enforcement of any state law.

Any costs chargeable against the defendant in any such case shall be paid by the Commonwealth from the appropriation for the payment of criminal charges.

1962, c. 235, § 2-86.2; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-120; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-507. Legal service in civil matters.

A. All legal service in civil matters for the Commonwealth, the Governor, and every state department, institution, division, commission, board, bureau, agency, entity, official, court, or judge, including the conduct of all civil litigation in which any of them are interested, shall be rendered and performed by the Attorney General, except as provided in this chapter and except for any litigation concerning a justice or judge initiated by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission. No regular counsel shall be employed for or by the Governor or any state department, institution, division, commission, board, bureau, agency, entity, or official. The Attorney General may represent personally or through one or more of his assistants any number of state departments, institutions, divisions, commissions, boards, bureaus, agencies, entities, officials, courts, or judges that are parties to the same transaction or that are parties in the same civil or administrative proceeding and may represent multiple interests within the same department, institution, division, commission, board, bureau, agency, or entity. The soil and water conservation district directors or districts may request legal advice from local, public, or private sources; however, upon request of the soil and water conservation district directors or districts, the Attorney General shall provide legal service in civil matters for such district directors or districts.

B. The Attorney General may represent personally or through one of his assistants any of the following persons who are made defendant in any civil action for damages arising out of any matter connected with their official duties:

1. (Effective until January 15, 2018) Members, agents, or employees of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board;

1. (Effective January 15, 2018) Members, agents, or employees of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority;

2. Agents inspecting or investigators appointed by the State Corporation Commission;

3. Agents, investigators, or auditors employed by the Department of Taxation;

4. Members, agents, or employees of the State Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the State Board of Health, the State Department of Health, the Department of General Services, the State Board of Social Services, the Department of Social Services, the State Board of Corrections, the Department of Corrections, the State Board of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Virginia Parole Board, or the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;

5. Persons employed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Department of Transportation, or the Department of Rail and Public Transportation;

6. Persons employed by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles;

7. Persons appointed by the Commissioner of Marine Resources;

8. Police officers appointed by the Superintendent of State Police;

9. Conservation police officers appointed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries;

10. Hearing officers appointed to hear a teacher's grievance pursuant to § 22.1-311;

11. Staff members or volunteers participating in a court-appointed special advocate program pursuant to Article 5 (§ 9.1-151 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1;

12. Any emergency medical services agency that is a licensee of the Department of Health in any civil matter and any guardian ad litem appointed by a court in a civil matter brought against him for alleged errors or omissions in the discharge of his court-appointed duties;

13. Conservation officers of the Department of Conservation and Recreation; or

14. A person appointed by written order of a circuit court judge to run an existing corporation or company as the judge's representative, when that person is acting in execution of a lawful order of the court and the order specifically refers to this section and appoints such person to serve as an agent of the Commonwealth.

Upon request of the affected individual, the Attorney General may represent personally or through one of his assistants any basic or advanced emergency medical care attendant or technician possessing a valid certificate issued by authority of the State Board of Health in any civil matter in which a defense of immunity from liability is raised pursuant to § 8.01-225.

C. If, in the opinion of the Attorney General, it is impracticable or uneconomical for such legal service to be rendered by him or one of his assistants, he may employ special counsel for this purpose, whose compensation shall be fixed by the Attorney General. The compensation for such special counsel shall be paid out of the funds appropriated for the administration of the board, commission, division, or department being represented or whose members, officers, inspectors, investigators, or other employees are being represented pursuant to this section. Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the Supreme Court may employ its own counsel in any matter arising out of its official duties in which it, or any justice, is a party.

D. Nothing herein shall limit the powers granted in § 16.1-88.03.

Code 1950, § 2-87; 1958, c. 542; 1966, cc. 222, 677, § 2.1-121; 1974, cc. 44, 45, 432; 1975, c. 372; 1976, cc. 580, 726; 1978, c. 96; 1979, c. 450; 1980, c. 255; 1981, c. 427; 1982, c. 636; 1984, cc. 703, 742; 1987, c. 326; 1988, c. 435; 1989, c. 733; 1990, cc. 637, 752, 791; 2001, c. 844; 2005, c. 236; 2007, cc. 248, 595; 2008, c. 577; 2009, cc. 813, 840; 2012, c. 563; 2013, cc. 585, 588, 646, 650; 2015, cc. 38, 502, 503, 730; 2017, c. 690.

§ 2.2-507.1. Authority of Attorney General regarding charitable assets.

A. The assets of a charitable corporation incorporated in or doing any business in Virginia shall be deemed to be held in trust for the public for such purposes as are established by the governing documents of such charitable corporation, the gift or bequest made to such charitable corporation, or other applicable law. The Attorney General shall have the same authority to act on behalf of the public with respect to such assets as he has with respect to assets held by unincorporated charitable trusts and other charitable entities, including the authority to seek such judicial relief as may be necessary to protect the public interest in such assets.

B. Nothing contained in this section is intended to modify the standard of conduct applicable under existing law to the directors of charitable corporations incorporated in or doing any business in Virginia.

2002, c. 792; 2004, c. 289.

§ 2.2-507.2. Youth Internet Safety Fund established.

There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Youth Internet Safety Fund, hereafter referred to as "the Fund." The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All money as may be appropriated by the General Assembly and any gifts, bequests, grants, or donations shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of education, public awareness, and other activities to promote the safe and secure use of the Internet. Unless otherwise restricted by the terms of the gift or bequest, the Attorney General may direct the sale, exchange, or other disposition of such gifts and bequests. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Attorney General.

2007, c. 309.

§ 2.2-508. Legal service in certain redistricting proceedings.

Upon notification by a county, city or town of a pending civil action challenging the legality of its election district boundaries as required by § 24.2-304.5, the Attorney General shall review the papers in the civil action and may represent the interests of the Commonwealth in developing an appropriate remedy that is consistent with requirements of law, including but not limited to Article VII, Section 5 of the Constitution of Virginia, Chapter 3 (§ 24.2-302.2 et seq.) of Title 24.2, or Chapter 39 (§ 30-263 et seq.) of Title 30.

1989, c. 112, § 2.1-121.1; 1995, c. 249; 2001, c. 844; 2004, c. 1000; 2012, c. 1.

§ 2.2-509. Representation in administrative proceedings.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the Attorney General finds after consultation with the head of the affected department that it is in the best interests of the Commonwealth to do so, the Attorney General may authorize any employee of his office or any employee of a department to represent that department or an affiliated body in any administrative proceedings before the department, an affiliated body or before any hearing officer or examiner appointed or employed by the department or affiliated body.

1991, c. 227, § 2.1-121.2; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-509.1. (Effective until January 15, 2018) Powers of investigators; enforcement of certain tobacco laws.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General as designated by the Attorney General shall be authorized to seize cigarettes as defined in § 3.2-4200, which are sold, possessed, distributed, transported, imported, or otherwise held in violation of § 3.2-4207 or 58.1-1037. In addition, such investigators shall be authorized to accompany and participate with special agents of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board or other law-enforcement officials engaging in an enforcement action under § 3.2-4207 or 58.1-1037.

2006, c. 695.

§ 2.2-509.1. (Effective January 15, 2018) Powers of investigators; enforcement of certain tobacco laws.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General as designated by the Attorney General shall be authorized to seize cigarettes as defined in § 3.2-4200, which are sold, possessed, distributed, transported, imported, or otherwise held in violation of § 3.2-4207 or 58.1-1037. In addition, such investigators shall be authorized to accompany and participate with special agents of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority or other law-enforcement officials engaging in an enforcement action under § 3.2-4207 or 58.1-1037.

2006, c. 695; 2015, cc. 38, 730.

§ 2.2-510. Employment of special counsel generally.

No special counsel shall be employed for or by the Governor or any state department, institution, division, commission, board, bureau, agency, entity, official, justice of the Supreme Court, or judge of any circuit court or district court except in the following cases:

1. When the Governor determines that, because of the nature of the legal service to be performed, the Attorney General's office is unable to render such service, then the Governor shall issue an exemption order stating with particularity the facts and reasons leading to the conclusion that the Attorney General's office is unable to render such service. The Governor may then employ special counsel to render such service as he may deem necessary and proper. The compensation for such special counsel shall be paid out of the funds appropriated for the administration of the board, commission, division, or department to be represented or whose members, officers, inspectors, investigators, or other employees are to be represented pursuant to this section.

2. In cases of legal services in civil matters to be performed for the Commonwealth, where it is impracticable or uneconomical for the Attorney General to render such service, he may employ special counsel whose compensation shall be paid out of the appropriation for the Attorney General's office.

3. In cases of legal services in civil matters to be performed for any state department, institution, division, commission, board, bureau, agency, entity, official, justice of the Supreme Court, or judge of any circuit court or district court where it is impracticable or uneconomical for the Attorney General's office to render such service, special counsel may be employed but only as set forth in subsection C of § 2.2-507, upon the written recommendation of the Attorney General, who shall approve all requisitions drawn upon the Comptroller for warrants as compensation for such special counsel before the Comptroller shall have authority to issue such warrants.

4. In cases where the Attorney General certifies to the Governor that he is unable to render certain legal services, the Governor may employ special counsel or other assistance to render such services as may be necessary.

Code 1950, § 2-88; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-122; 1975, c. 372; 1976, c. 726; 2001, c. 844; 2002, c. 572; 2007, c. 248; 2012, c. 847; 2014, c. 824.

§ 2.2-510.1. Open negotiation for employment of special counsel.

No state agency or state agent shall enter into a contingency fee contract for legal services in which contingency fees and expenses are reasonably anticipated to exceed $100,000 until an open and competitive negotiation process has been undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.), applied mutatis mutandis. The contract shall be awarded to the attorney or firm that submits the most competitive proposal to provide such services considering the cost of the services, the qualifications of the attorney or firm to provide the services, the experience of the attorney or firm with similar legal matters, legal expertise generally, and such other relevant factors as may be identified by the Attorney General.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to any contracts for legal fees entered into pursuant to § 2.2-507 for the purpose of implementing the Virginia Debt Collection Act (§ 2.2-4800 et seq.).

2002, c. 196.

§ 2.2-510.2. Employment of outside counsel where a conflict of interests exists.

In cases where the Attorney General certifies to the Governor that it would be improper for the Attorney General's office to render legal services due to a conflict of interests, the Attorney General shall negotiate an agreement with outside counsel to render the necessary legal services for the matter. The agreement shall include a reasonable fee for the necessary legal services rendered. Compensation shall be expended from funds appropriated to the Attorney General's office.

2014, c. 824.

§ 2.2-511. Criminal cases.

A. Unless specifically requested by the Governor to do so, the Attorney General shall have no authority to institute or conduct criminal prosecutions in the circuit courts of the Commonwealth except in cases involving (i) violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (§ 4.1-100 et seq.), (ii) violation of laws relating to elections and the electoral process as provided in § 24.2-104, (iii) violation of laws relating to motor vehicles and their operation, (iv) the handling of funds by a state bureau, institution, commission or department, (v) the theft of state property, (vi) violation of the criminal laws involving child pornography and sexually explicit visual material involving children, (vii) the practice of law without being duly authorized or licensed or the illegal practice of law, (viii) violations of § 3.2-4212 or 58.1-1008.2, (ix) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (§ 18.2-152.1 et seq.), (x) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of the Air Pollution Control Law (§ 10.1-1300 et seq.), the Virginia Waste Management Act (§ 10.1-1400 et seq.), and the State Water Control Law (§ 62.1-44.2 et seq.), (xi) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of Chapters 2 (§ 18.2-18 et seq.), 3 (§ 18.2-22 et seq.), and 10 (§ 18.2-434 et seq.) of Title 18.2, if such crimes relate to violations of law listed in clause (x) of this subsection, (xii) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, criminal violations by Medicaid providers or their employees in the course of doing business, or violations of Chapter 13 (§ 18.2-512 et seq.) of Title 18.2, in which cases the Attorney General may leave the prosecution to the local attorney for the Commonwealth, or he may institute proceedings by information, presentment or indictment, as appropriate, and conduct the same, (xiii) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, violations of Article 9 (§ 18.2-246.1 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 18.2, (xiv) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, assisting in the prosecution of violations of §§ 18.2-186.3 and 18.2-186.4, (xv) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, assisting in the prosecution of violations of § 18.2-46.2, 18.2-46.3, or 18.2-46.5 when such violations are committed on the grounds of a state correctional facility, and (xvi) with the concurrence of the local attorney for the Commonwealth, assisting in the prosecution of violations of Article 10 (§ 18.2-246.6 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 18.2.

In all other criminal cases in the circuit courts, except where the law provides otherwise, the authority of the Attorney General to appear or participate in the proceedings shall not attach unless and until a petition for appeal has been granted by the Court of Appeals or a writ of error has been granted by the Supreme Court. In all criminal cases before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court in which the Commonwealth is a party or is directly interested, the Attorney General shall appear and represent the Commonwealth. In any criminal case in which a petition for appeal has been granted by the Court of Appeals, the Attorney General shall continue to represent the Commonwealth in any further appeal of a case from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.

B. The Attorney General shall, upon request of a person who was the victim of a crime and subject to such reasonable procedures as the Attorney General may require, ensure that such person is given notice of the filing, of the date, time and place and of the disposition of any appeal or habeas corpus proceeding involving the cases in which such person was a victim. For the purposes of this section, a victim is an individual who has suffered physical, psychological or economic harm as a direct result of the commission of a crime; a spouse, child, parent or legal guardian of a minor or incapacitated victim; or a spouse, child, parent or legal guardian of a victim of a homicide. Nothing in this subsection shall confer upon any person a right to appeal or modify any decision in a criminal, appellate or habeas corpus proceeding; abridge any right guaranteed by law; or create any cause of action for damages against the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, the Attorney General or any of his employees or agents, any other officer, employee or agent of the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, or any officer of the court.

Code 1950, § 2-90; 1958, c. 235; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-124; 1974, c. 490; 1975, c. 42; 1984, c. 703; 1993, c. 866; 1995, cc. 565, 839; 1997, c. 801; 1998, cc. 507, 510; 2000, c. 239; 2001, c. 844; 2002, cc. 588, 623; 2003, c. 103; 2004, cc. 450, 883, 996; 2007, c. 409; 2009, c. 847.

§ 2.2-512. Employment of special counsel to prosecute persons illegally practicing law.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Attorney General may expend funds appropriated to his office for the purpose of employing special counsel to investigate and prosecute a complaint that any person is engaged in the practice of law without being duly authorized or licensed so to do or is practicing law in violation of law. The compensation of the special counsel shall be paid out of the appropriation for the Attorney General's office. No special counsel shall be employed and paid except upon the request of the Executive Committee of the Virginia State Bar.

1958, c. 235, § 2-90.1; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-125; 1980, c. 269; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-513. Counsel for Commonwealth in federal matters.

The Attorney General shall represent the interests of the Commonwealth, its departments, boards, institutions and commissions in matters before or controversies with the officers and several departments of the government of the United States.

Code 1950, § 2-91; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-126; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-514. Compromise and settlement of disputes.

A. Except as provided in this section or former § 23-38.33:1, the Attorney General may compromise and settle disputes, claims and controversies involving all interests of the Commonwealth including, but not limited to the Virginia Tort Claims Act (§ 8.01-195.1 et seq.), and may discharge any such claims, but only after the proposed compromise, settlement or discharge, together with the reasons therefor, have been submitted in writing to the Governor and approved by him. Where any dispute, claim or controversy involves the interests of any department, institution, division, commission, board, authority or bureau of the Commonwealth, the Attorney General may compromise and settle or discharge the same provided the action is approved both by the Governor, as provided in this section, and by the head, or his designee, of the department, institution, division, board, authority or bureau that is interested. However, when any dispute, claim or controversy arises under the Virginia Tort Claims Act (§ 8.01-195.1 et seq.) or otherwise involves the interests of any department, institution, division, commission, board, authority or bureau of the Commonwealth, and the settlement amount does not exceed $250,000, the Attorney General or an assistant Attorney General assigned to such department, institution, division, commission, board, authority or bureau, or such other designee of the Attorney General, may compromise and settle or discharge the same provided the action is approved by the head, or his designee, of the department, institution, division, board or bureau whose interests are in issue. When the dispute, claim or controversy involves a case in which the Commonwealth has a claim for sums due it as the result of hospital, medical or dental care furnished by or on behalf of the Commonwealth, the Attorney General or such assistant Attorney General may compromise and settle and discharge the same when the settlement amount does not exceed $250,000.

B. No settlement under subsection A shall be made subject to a confidentiality agreement that prohibits the Commonwealth, a state agency, officer or employee from disclosing the amount of such settlement except where such confidentiality agreement is imposed by a court of competent jurisdiction or otherwise is required by law.

C. No settlement under subsection A shall be made subject to a confidentiality agreement if such settlement requires that a matter or issue shall be the subject of (i) regulatory action pursuant to Article 2 (§ 2.2-4006 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of this title, or (ii) legislation proposed to be introduced in the General Assembly.

Code 1950, § 2-92; 1956, c. 387; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-127; 1973, c. 219; 1979, c. 266; 1986, c. 180; 1989, c. 75; 1995, cc. 359, 384; 2001, cc. 118, 844; 2004, c. 729; 2007, c. 217.

§ 2.2-515. Service on board of national tobacco trust entity.

The Attorney General may serve in his official capacity on the board of directors of any entity established to ensure the implementation in the Commonwealth of a national tobacco trust established to provide payments to tobacco growers and tobacco quota owners to ameliorate adverse economic consequences resulting from a national settlement of states' claims against tobacco manufacturers.

2000, c. 1048, § 2.1-127.1; 2001, c. 844.

§ 2.2-515.1. Statewide Facilitator for Victims of Domestic Violence.

The Attorney General shall establish a Statewide Facilitator for Victims of Domestic Violence within the Office of the Attorney General. The Statewide Facilitator shall have the responsibility to (i) establish an address confidentiality program in accordance with § 2.2-515.2, (ii) assist agencies in implementing domestic violence programs, and (iii) report on the status of such programs to the House Committee on Courts of Justice and the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice and the Virginia State Crime Commission by January 1 of each year.

2002, cc. 810, 818; 2007, c. 599; 2008, c. 649; 2011, cc. 97, 172.

§ 2.2-515.2. Address confidentiality program established; victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual violence, or human trafficking; application; disclosure of records.

A. As used in this section:

"Address" means a residential street address, school address, or work address of a person as specified on the person's application to be a program participant.

"Applicant" means a person who is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual violence or is a parent or guardian of a minor child or incapacitated person who is the victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual violence.

"Domestic violence" means an act as defined in § 38.2-508 and includes threat of such acts committed against an individual in a domestic situation, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law-enforcement officers. Such threat must be a threat of force which would place any person in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury.

"Program participant" means a person certified by the Office of the Attorney General as eligible to participate in the Address Confidentiality Program.

"Sexual or domestic violence programs" means public and not-for-profit agencies the primary mission of which is to provide services to victims of sexual or domestic violence, or stalking. Such programs may also include specialized services for victims of human trafficking.

"Sexual violence" means conduct that is prohibited under clause (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) of § 18.2-48, or § 18.2-61, 18.2-63, 18.2-64.1, 18.2-67.1, 18.2-67.2, 18.2-67.3, 18.2-67.4, 18.2-67.5, 18.2-348, 18.2-349, 18.2-355, 18.2-356, 18.2-357, 18.2-357.1, or 18.2-368, regardless of whether the conduct has been reported to a law-enforcement officer or the assailant has been charged with or convicted of the alleged violation.

"Stalking" means conduct that is prohibited under § 18.2-60.3, regardless of whether the conduct has been reported to a law-enforcement officer or the assailant has been charged with or convicted for the alleged violation.

B. The Statewide Facilitator for Victims of Domestic Violence shall establish a program to be known as the "Address Confidentiality Program" to protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual violence by authorizing the use of designated addresses for such victims. An individual who is at least 18 years of age, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor, a guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person, or an emancipated minor may apply in person at (i) sexual or domestic violence programs that have been accredited by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Professional Standards Committee established pursuant to § 9.1-116.3 and are qualified to (a) assist the eligible person in determining whether the address confidentiality program should be part of such person's overall safety plan, (b) explain the address confidentiality program services and limitations, (c) explain the program participant's responsibilities, and, (d) assist the person eligible for participation with the completion of application materials or (ii) crime victim and witness assistance programs. The Office of the Attorney General shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Attorney General and if the application contains the following:

1. A sworn statement by the applicant declaring to be true and correct under penalty of perjury that the applicant has good reason to believe that:

a. The applicant, or the minor or incapacitated individual on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking;

b. The applicant fears further acts of violence, stalking, retribution, or intimidation from the applicant's assailant, abuser, or trafficker; and

c. The applicant is not on active parole or probation supervision requirements under federal, state, or local law.

2. A designation of the Office of the Attorney General as agent for the purpose of receiving mail on behalf of the applicant;

3. The applicant's actual address to which mail can be forwarded and a telephone number where the applicant can be called;

4. A listing of any minor children residing at the applicant's actual address, each minor child's date of birth, and each minor child's relationship to the applicant; and

5. The signature of the applicant and any person who assisted in the preparation of the application and the date.

C. Upon approval of a completed application, the Office of the Attorney General shall certify the applicant as a program participant. An applicant shall be certified for three years following the date of the approval, unless the certification is withdrawn or invalidated before that date. A program participant may apply to be recertified every three years.

D. Upon receipt of first-class mail addressed to a program participant, the Attorney General or his designee shall forward the mail to the actual address of the program participant. The actual address of a program participant shall be available only to the Attorney General and to those employees involved in the operation of the Address Confidentiality Program and to law-enforcement officers. A program participant's actual address may be entered into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) system so that it may be made known to law-enforcement officers accessing the VCIN system for law-enforcement purposes.

E. The Office of the Attorney General may cancel a program participant's certification if:

1. The program participant requests withdrawal from the program;

2. The program participant obtains a name change through an order of the court and does not provide notice and a copy of the order to the Office of the Attorney General within seven days after entry of the order;

3. The program participant changes his residence address and does not provide seven days' notice to the Office of the Attorney General prior to the change of address;

4. The mail forwarded by the Office of the Attorney General to the address provided by the program participant is returned as undeliverable;

5. Any information contained in the application is false;

6. The program participant has been placed on parole or probation while a participant in the address confidentiality program; or

7. The applicant is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 9.1-900 et seq.) of Title 9.1.

For purposes of the address confidentiality program, residents of temporary housing for 30 days or less are not eligible to enroll in the address confidentiality program until a permanent residential address is obtained.

The application form shall contain a statement notifying each applicant of the provisions of this subsection.

F. A program participant may request that any state or local agency use the address designated by the Office of the Attorney General as the program participant's address, except when the program participant is purchasing a firearm from a dealer in firearms. The agency shall accept the address designated by the Office of the Attorney General as a program participant's address, unless the agency has received a written exemption from the Office of the Attorney General demonstrating to the satisfaction of the Attorney General that:

1. The agency has a bona fide statutory basis for requiring the program participant to disclose to it the actual location of the program participant; and

2. The disclosed confidential address of the program participant will be used only for that statutory purpose and will not be disclosed or made available in any way to any other person or agency.

A state agency may request an exemption by providing in writing to the Office of the Attorney General identification of the statute or administrative rule that demonstrates the agency's bona fide requirement and authority for the use of the actual address of an individual. A request for a waiver from an agency may be for an individual program participant, a class of program participants, or all program participants. The denial of an agency's exemption request shall be in writing and include a statement of the specific reasons for the denial. Acceptance or denial of an agency's exemption request shall constitute final agency action.

Any state or local agency that discloses the program participant's confidential address provided by the Office of the Attorney General shall be immune from civil liability unless the agency acted with gross negligence or willful misconduct.

A program participant's actual address shall be disclosed pursuant to a court order.

G. Records submitted to or provided by the Office of the Attorney General in accordance with this section shall be exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) to the extent such records contain information identifying a past or current program participant, including such person's name, actual and designated address, telephone number, and any email address. However, access shall not be denied to the person who is the subject thereof, or the parent or legal guardian of a program participant in cases where the program participant is a minor child or an incapacitated person, except when the parent or legal guardian is named as the program participant's assailant.

H. Neither the Office of the Attorney General, its officers or employees, or others who have a responsibility to a program participant under this section shall have any liability nor shall any cause of action arise against them in their official or personal capacity from the failure of a program participant to receive any first class mail forwarded to him by the Office of the Attorney General pursuant to this section. Nor shall any such liability or cause of action arise from the failure of a program participant to timely receive any first class mail forwarded by the Office of the Attorney General pursuant to this section.

2007, c. 599; 2008, c. 649; 2011, cc. 97, 172; 2014, c. 439; 2017, c. 498.

§ 2.2-516. Annual report.

The Attorney General shall annually, on or before May 1, deliver to the Governor a report of the state and condition of all important matters in which he has represented the Commonwealth during the preceding year. He shall also include in his report the official opinions rendered by him that he believes to be of general interest or helpful in promoting uniformity in the construction of the laws of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 2-93; 1966, c. 677, § 2.1-128; 1988, c. 122; 2001, c. 844.

Article 2. Division of Consumer Counsel.

§ 2.2-517. Division of Consumer Counsel created; duties.

A. There is created in the Department of Law a Division of Consumer Counsel (the Division) that shall represent the interests of the people as consumers.

B. The duties of the Division shall be to:

1. Appear before governmental commissions, agencies and departments, including the State Corporation Commission, to represent and be heard on behalf of consumers' interests, and investigate such matters relating to such appearance.

2. Make such studies related to enforcing consumer laws of the Commonwealth as deemed necessary to protect the interests of the consumer and recommend to the Governor and General Assembly the enactment of such legislation deemed necessary to promote and protect the interests of the people as consumers.

C. In addition, the Division shall:

1. Establish mechanisms by which to receive complaints and related inquiries from the Commonwealth's consumers involving violations or alleged violations of any law designed to protect the integrity of consumer transactions in the Commonwealth. Such mechanisms shall include establishing a statewide, toll-free telephone hotline to be administered by the Division; publicizing the existence of such hotline through public service announcements on television and radio and in newspapers and other media deemed necessary, convenient, or appropriate; and enhancing electronic communication with the Division through the Internet;

2. Establish and administer programs that facilitate resolution of complaints and related inquiries from the Commonwealth's consumers involving violations or alleged violations of any law designed to protect the integrity of consumer transactions in the Commonwealth. Such programs may utilize paid or unpaid personnel, law schools or other institutions of higher education, community dispute resolution centers, or any other private or public entity, including any local offices of consumer affairs established pursuant to § 15.2-963 that volunteer to participate in a program;

3. Promote consumer education in cooperation with the Department of Education and inform the public of policies, decisions, and legislation affecting consumers;

4. Serve as a central coordinating agency and clearinghouse for receiving and investigating complaints by the Commonwealth's consumers of illegal, fraudulent, deceptive or dangerous practices and referring appropriate complaints to the federal, state, and local departments or agencies charged with enforcement of consumer laws;

5. Maintain records of consumer complaints and their eventual disposition, which records shall be open for public inspection, provided that information disclosing the business interests of any person, trade secrets, or the names of customers shall be held confidential except to the extent that disclosure of such matters may be necessary for the enforcement of laws; and

6. Have the authority, in the same manner as provided in § 59.1-308.2, to inquire into consumer complaints regarding violations of § 46.2-1231 or 46.2-1233.1 involving businesses engaged in towing vehicles or to refer the complaint directly to the appropriate local enforcement officials.

D. In addition, the Division may inquire into consumer complaints involving towing and recovery operators and tow truck drivers regarding violations of § 46.2-118, 46.2-1217, 46.2-1231, or 46.2-1233.1.

E. The Division, in all investigations connected with enforcing consumer laws and appearances before governmental bodies shall, on behalf of the interests of the consumer, cooperate and coordinate its efforts with such commissions, agencies and departments in ensuring that any matters adversely affecting the interests of the consumer are properly controlled and regulated. The appearance of a representative of the Division before any governmental body shall in no way limit or alter the duties of such governmental body.

F. The Attorney General may employ and fix the salaries of such attorneys, employees and consultants, within the amounts appropriated to the Attorney General for providing legal service for the Commonwealth, and other services as may be provided for by law, as he may deem necessary in the operation of the Division of Consumer Counsel to carry out its functions.

1970, c. 781, §§ 2.1-133.1, 2.1-133.3; 2001, c. 844; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

Article 3. Division of Debt Collection.

§ 2.2-518. Division of Debt Collection.

A. There is created in the Department of Law a Division of Debt Collection that shall provide all legal services and advice related to the collection of funds owed to the Commonwealth, pursuant to § 2.2-507 and the Virginia Debt Collection Act (§ 2.2-4800 et seq.).

The Attorney General may appoint and fix the salaries of such attorneys and employees as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Division, within the amounts appropriated to the Division, and may supplement such funds from appropriations made to his office for the provision of legal services to the Commonwealth.

The Division may retain as special revenue up to 30 percent of receivables collected on behalf of state agencies and may contract with private collection agents for the collection of debts amounting to less than $15,000, as provided in the appropriation act.

B. There is hereby created on the books of the Comptroller a special, nonreverting fund to be known as the Debt Collection Recovery Fund (Fund). The Division shall deposit to the Fund all revenues generated by it, less any cost of recovery, from receivables collected on behalf of state agencies, pursuant to §§ 2.2-4805 and 2.2-4806. The Division shall transfer the remaining funds to the appropriate state agencies on a periodic basis or such other period of time approved by the Division.

C. Any direct payment received by an agency on an account that has been referred for collection to the Division shall be reported to the Division upon receipt by the agency. The agency shall cause the fees due the Division for obtaining the recovery to be reported to and paid to the Division; however, no fees shall be paid to the Division on payments to the agency resulting from the agency's participation in the Setoff Debt Collection Act, Article 21 (§ 58.1-520 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of Title 58.1. The remaining portion of the direct payment shall be retained by the agency.

1990, c. 71, § 2.1-133.4; 2001, c. 844; 2004, c. 919; 2009, c. 797.

§ 2.2-519. Prompt collection of accounts receivable.

A. The Division shall oversee and ensure prompt delivery of the Commonwealth's accounts receivable in accordance with the Virginia Debt Collection Act (§ 2.2-4800 et seq.). The Division shall enforce the policies and procedures as set forth in § 2.2-4806 for reporting, accounting for, and collecting the Commonwealth's delinquent accounts receivable.

B. All agencies and institutions of the Commonwealth shall comply with all requirements established pursuant to § 2.2-4806 and by the Department of Law regarding the collection of the Commonwealth's accounts receivable.

2008, c. 637.

Article 4. Division of Human Rights.

§ 2.2-520. Division of Human Rights created; duties.

A. There is created in the Department of Law a Division of Human Rights (the Division) to assist in the prevention of and relief from alleged unlawful discriminatory practices.

B. The duties of the Division shall be to:

1. Receive, investigate, seek to conciliate, refer to another agency, hold hearings pursuant to the Virginia Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.), and make findings and recommendations upon complaints alleging unlawful discriminatory practices;

2. Adopt, promulgate, amend, and rescind regulations consistent with this article pursuant to the Virginia Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). However, the Division shall not have the authority to adopt regulations on a substantive matter when another state agency is authorized to adopt such regulations;

3. Inquire into incidents that may constitute unlawful acts of discrimination or unfounded charges of unlawful discrimination under state or federal law and take such action within the Division's authority designed to prevent such acts;

4. Seek through appropriate enforcement authorities, prevention of or relief from an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice;

5. Appoint and compensate qualified hearing officers from the list of hearing officers maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia;

6. Promote creation of local commissions to aid in effectuating the policies of this article and to enter into cooperative worksharing or other agreements with federal agencies or local commissions, including the deferral of complaints of discrimination to federal agencies or local commissions;

7. Make studies and appoint advisory councils to effectuate the purposes and policies of the article and to make the results thereof available to the public;

8. Accept public grants or private gifts, bequests, or other payments, as appropriate; and

9. Furnish technical assistance upon request of persons subject to this article to further comply with the article or an order issued thereunder.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-720; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2634; 2004, c. 58; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-521. Procedure for issuance of subpoena duces tecum.

Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unlawful discriminatory practice, he may apply to the judge of the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the respondent resides or is doing business for a subpoena duces tecum against any person refusing to produce such data and information. The judge of the court, upon good cause shown, may cause the subpoena to be issued. Any person failing to comply with such subpoena shall be subject to punishment for contempt by the court issuing the subpoena. For purposes of this section, "person" includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, legal representative, mutual company, joint stock company, trust, unincorporated organization, employee, employer, employment agency, labor organization, joint labor-management committee, or an agent thereof.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-721; 2000, c. 64; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2635; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-522. Filing with Division deemed filing with other state agencies.

Filing of a written complaint with the Division of Human Rights shall be deemed filing with any state agency for the purpose of complying with any time limitation on the filing of a complaint, provided the time limit for filing with the other agency has not expired. The time limit for filing with other agencies shall be tolled while the Division is either investigating the complaint or making a decision to refer it. Complaints under this article shall be filed with the Division within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory event.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-722; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2636; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-523. Confidentiality of information; penalty.

A. The Division shall not make public, prior to a public hearing pursuant to § 2.2-520, investigative notes and other correspondence and information furnished to the Division in confidence with respect to an investigation or conciliation process involving an alleged unlawful discriminatory practice.

B. Nothing in this section, however, shall prohibit the distribution of information taken from inactive reports in a form that does not reveal the identity of the parties involved or other persons supplying information.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-723; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2637; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 2.2-524. Powers of local commissions.

A local human rights or human relations commission established prior to the effective date of this article or any predecessor statute may exercise any such additional powers as may have been granted heretofore to that commission pursuant to applicable provisions of §§ 15.2-725, 15.2-853, and 15.2-854 or municipal charter provisions.

1987, c. 581, § 2.1-724; 2000, c. 933; 2001, c. 844, § 2.2-2638; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

The Virginia General Assembly is offering access to the Code of Virginia on the Internet as a service to the public. We are unable to assist users of this service with legal questions nor respond to requests for legal advice or the application of the law to specific facts. Therefore, to understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.

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