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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act - Rights & Responsibilities

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

A public record is any writing or recording -- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format -- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.

The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.


Your FOIA Rights

·      You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.

·      You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.

·      If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court.

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Making a Request for records from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

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CONTACT INFORMATION: To request records from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services:

Members of the Public: You may direct your request to Gayle Jones or by phone at 804-786-3921 or fax at 804-371-6638. In addition, the Department has a Voice/TDD, (804) 371-8977.

Members of the Media: Contact Meghan McGuire or by phone at 804-786-9048.

In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at foiacouncil@leg.state.va.us, or by phone at 804-225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.

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The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services’ Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request

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Costs

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Commonly used exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure, including:

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