Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
11/15/2019

Article 2. Laws, Public Records, and Copies of Original Records As Evidence.

§ 8.01-389. Judicial records as evidence; full faith and credit; recitals in deeds, deeds of trust, and mortgages; "records" defined; certification.

A. The records of any judicial proceeding and any other official records of any court of this Commonwealth shall be received as prima facie evidence provided that such records are certified by the clerk of the court where preserved to be a true record. For the purposes of this section, judicial proceeding shall include the review of a petition and issuance of a temporary detention order under § 16.1-340.1 or 37.2-809.

A1. The records of any judicial proceeding and any other official record of any court of another state or country, or of the United States, shall be received as prima facie evidence provided that such records are certified by the clerk of the court where preserved to be a true record.

B. Every court of this Commonwealth shall give such records of courts not of this Commonwealth the full faith and credit given to them in the courts of the jurisdiction from whence they come.

B1. In any instance in which a court not of this Commonwealth shall have entered an order of injunction limiting or preventing access by any person to the courts of this Commonwealth without that person having had notice and an opportunity for a hearing prior to the entry of such foreign order, that foreign order is not required to be given full faith and credit in any Virginia court. The Virginia court may, in its discretion, hold a hearing to determine the adequacy of notice and opportunity for hearing in the foreign court.

C. Specifically, recitals of any fact in a deed or deed of trust of record conveying any interest in real property shall be prima facie evidence of that fact.

D. "Records" as used in this article, shall be deemed to include any memorandum, report, paper, data compilation, or other record in any form, or any combination thereof.

E. The use of the term "copy teste," "true copy," or "certified copy" or a substantially similar term on a certification affixed or annexed to a copy of an official record maintained by a clerk of court that bears the signature of the clerk or any deputy clerk, and that has the name of the court where such record is preserved on the document or on the certification, shall be prima facie proof that such record is certified by such clerk to be a true copy of the official record kept in the office of the clerk. Nothing herein shall be construed to require or prevent a clerk from using an official seal or prevent a clerk from using any other acceptable method of certification for a court record.

F. The certification of any record pursuant to this section shall automatically authenticate such record for the purpose of its admission into evidence in any trial, hearing, or proceeding.

Code 1950, §§ 8-271, 8-275, 8-276, 8-276.1; 1977, c. 617; 1980, c. 453; 1995, c. 594; 1996, c. 417; 2008, c. 786; 2010, cc. 778, 825; 2013, c. 263.

§ 8.01-390. Nonjudicial records as evidence (Subdivision (10)(a) of Supreme Court Rule 2:803 derived from subsection C of this section).

A. Copies of records of this Commonwealth, of another state, of the United States, of another country, or of any political subdivision or agency of the same, other than those located in a clerk's office of a court, shall be received as prima facie evidence, provided that such copies are authenticated to be true copies either by the custodian thereof or by the person to whom the custodian reports, if they are different. A digitally certified copy of a record provided pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 38.2 (§ 2.2-3817 et seq.) of Title 2.2, whether in electronic form or in print form with visible assurance of the digital signature, shall be deemed to be authenticated by the custodian of the record unless evidence is presented to the contrary.

B. Records and recordings of 911 emergency service calls shall be deemed authentic transcriptions or recordings of the original statements if they are accompanied by a certificate that meets the provisions of subsection A and the certificate contains the date and time of the incoming call and the incoming phone number, if available, associated with the call.

C. An affidavit signed by an officer deemed to have custody of such an official record, or by his deputy, stating that after a diligent search, no record or entry of such record is found to exist among the records in his office is admissible as evidence that his office has no such record or entry.

1977, c. 617; 1996, c. 668; 2000, c. 334; 2014, c. 353; 2017, c. 738.

§ 8.01-390.1. School records as evidence.

In a proceeding where a minor's school records are material and otherwise admissible, copies of such school records shall be received as evidence in any matter, provided that such copies are authenticated to be true and accurate copies by the custodian thereof, or by the person to whom the custodian reports if they are different. An affidavit signed by the custodian of such records, or by the person to whom the custodian reports if they are different, stating that such records are true and accurate copies of such records shall be valid authentication for the purposes of this section. Except for copies of report cards and letters previously sent to parents, subjective information, including observations, comments or opinions shall be redacted, by the court, from any records prior to admittance of the records into evidence pursuant to this section. Any party seeking to introduce records authenticated by affidavit under this section shall deliver notice and a copy of such records to the other parties so that they are received not less than seven days prior to the introduction of such records.

2000, c. 558; 2009, c. 212; 2012, c. 499.

§ 8.01-390.2. Reports by Chief Medical Examiner received as evidence.

Reports of investigations made by the Chief Medical Examiner, his assistants or medical examiners, and the records and certified reports of autopsies made under the authority of Title 32.1, shall be received as evidence in any court or other proceeding, and copies of photographs, laboratory findings and reports in the office of the Chief Medical Examiner or any medical examiner, when duly attested by the Chief Medical Examiner or an Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, shall be received as evidence in any court or other proceeding for any purpose for which the original could be received without proof of the official character or the person whose name is signed thereto.

2003, c. 459.

§ 8.01-390.3. Business records as evidence (Subdivision (6) of Supreme Court Rule 2:902 derived in part from this section).

A. In any proceeding where a business record is material and otherwise admissible, authentication of the record and the foundation required by subdivision (6) of Rule 2:803 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia may be laid by (i) witness testimony, (ii) a certification of the authenticity of and foundation for the record made by the custodian of such record or other qualified witness either by affidavit or by declaration pursuant to § 8.01-4.3, or (iii) a combination of witness testimony and a certification.

B. The proponent of a business record shall (i) give written notice to all other parties if a certification under this section will be relied upon in whole or in part in authenticating and laying the foundation for admission of such record and (ii) provide a copy of the record and the certification to all other parties, so that all parties have a fair opportunity to challenge the record and certification. The notice and copy of the record and certification shall be provided no later than 15 days in advance of the trial or hearing, unless an order of the court specifies a different time. Objections shall be made within five days thereafter, unless an order of the court specifies a different time. If any party timely objects to reliance upon the certification, the authentication and foundation required by subdivision (6) of Rule 2:803 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia shall be made by witness testimony unless the objection is withdrawn.

C. A certified business record that satisfies the requirements of this section shall be self-authenticating and requires no extrinsic evidence of authenticity.

D. A copy of a business record may be offered in lieu of an original upon satisfaction of the requirements of subsection D of § 8.01-391 by witness testimony, a certification, or a combination of testimony and a certification.

2014, c. 398; 2017, c. 223.

§ 8.01-391. Copies of originals as evidence (Subdivision (6) of Supreme Court Rule 2:902 derived in part from subsection D of this section and Supreme Court Rule 2:1005 derived from this section).

A. Whenever the original of any official publication or other record has been filed in an action or introduced as evidence, the court may order the original to be returned to its custodian, retaining in its stead a copy thereof. The court may make any order to prevent the improper use of the original.

B. If any department, division, institution, agency, board, or commission of this Commonwealth, of another state or country, or of the United States, or of any political subdivision or agency of the same, acting pursuant to the law of the respective jurisdiction or other proper authority, has copied any record made in the performance of its official duties, such copy shall be as admissible into evidence as the original, whether the original is in existence or not, provided that such copy is authenticated as a true copy either by the custodian of said record or by the person to whom said custodian reports, if they are different, and is accompanied by a certificate that such person does in fact have the custody.

C. If any court or clerk's office of a court of this Commonwealth, of another state or country, or of the United States, or of any political subdivision or agency of the same, has copied any record made in the performance of its official duties, such copy shall be admissible into evidence as the original, whether the original is in existence or not, provided that such copy is authenticated as a true copy by a clerk or deputy clerk of such court.

D. If any business or member of a profession or calling in the regular course of business or activity has made any record or received or transmitted any document, and again in the regular course of business has caused any or all of such record or document to be copied, the copy shall be as admissible in evidence as the original, whether the original exists or not, provided that such copy is satisfactorily identified and authenticated as a true copy by a custodian of such record or by the person to whom said custodian reports, if they be different, and is accompanied by a certificate that said person does in fact have the custody. Such identification and authentication may be made through witness testimony or a certificate by affidavit or by declaration pursuant to § 8.01-4.3, or a combination of witness testimony and a certificate. Copies in the regular course of business shall be deemed to include reproduction at a later time, if done in good faith and without intent to defraud. Copies in the regular course of business shall include items such as checks which are regularly copied before transmission to another person or bank, or records which are acted upon without receipt of the original when the original is retained by another party.

E. The original of which a copy has been made may be destroyed unless its preservation is required by law or its validity has been questioned.

F. The introduction in an action of a copy under this section precludes neither the introduction or admission of the original nor the introduction of a copy or the original in another action.

G. Copy, as used in this section, shall include photographs, microphotographs, photostats, microfilm, microcard, printouts or other reproductions of electronically stored data, or copies from optical disks, electronically transmitted facsimiles, or any other reproduction of an original from a process which forms a durable medium for its recording, storing, and reproducing.

Code 1950, §§ 8-266, 8-267, 8-268, 8-278, 8-279, 8-279.1, 8-279.2; 1950, pp. 604, 640; 1954, c. 333; 1968, c. 723; 1972, cc. 441, 549, 645, 786; 1973, c. 177; 1977, cc. 532, 617; 1978, c. 75; 1979, c. 447; 1989, c. 212; 1990, c. 355; 1991, c. 145; 1992, c. 393; 2000, c. 334; 2012, c. 802; 2014, c. 398.

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.

The Code of Virginia online database excludes material copyrighted by the publisher, Michie, a division of Matthew Bender. Copyrighted material includes annotations and revisors' notes, which may be found in the print version of the Code of Virginia. Annotated print copies of the Code of Virginia are available in most Virginia public library systems, from LexisNexis (1-800-446-3410), and from West, a Thomson-Reuters business (1-800-344-5008).