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Phone:
(434) 589-8211
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P.O. Box 113
160 Commons Blvd.
Palmyra, Virginia 22963
Administrative Office Hours:
M-F 8:30am - 4:30pm
 
     
 
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Crash Reports Click Here
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • The Virginia Court System
  • What is a Magistrate?
  • How Do I get a Protective Order?
  • How do I obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant?
    • Process to Issue Arrest Warrants and Summonses
  • How do I obtain a concealed hand gun permit?
  • Where and when can I get fingerprinted?
  • How do I obtain a copy of an accident/incident report?
  • What do I do if I suspect I am the victim of fraud?

Virginia Freedom of Information Act

 The Rights of Requesters and the Responsibilities of Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office  under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act

 

The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office is the custodian of records for the following managed areas of the agency: 

  • Patrol
  • Investigations
  • Civil Process
  • Emergency Communication Center
  • Animal Control

 

Requests for records

To request records from The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Office, or if you are uncertain from whom you should request records, please contact Mrs. Martha Gatlin, Executive Assistant and FOIA point of contact for the Sheriff’s Office. Mrs. Gatlin may be reached: 

Phone: (434) 589-8211 Online: FOIA Request Email: to mgatlin@fluvannasheriff.com Fax: 434-591-2006 Printable Form: Click Here.  U.S. Mail: FOIA Request, Attn: Martha Gatlin, PO Box  113, Palmyra, VA 22963 In Person: 160 Commons Blvd, Palmyra, VA 22963, Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Office

 

You may contact a FOIA Officer with questions you have concerning requesting records from the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office. 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@dls.virginia.gov, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.

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 to compel compliance with FOIA.  Alternatively, you may contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.

Making a Request for Records from Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Office

You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone.  FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.

From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing.  This allows you to create a record of your request.  It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request.  However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.

Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity."  This is a common-sense standard.  It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.

Your request must ask for existing records or documents.  FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office, nor does it require Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office to create a record that does not exist.

You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office in the regular course of business. For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records

If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request.  Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking. 

Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office's Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request

Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it.  "Day One" is considered the day after your request is received.  The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.

The reason behind your request for public records from Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office is irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond to your request.  FOIA does, however, allow Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office to require you to provide your name and legal address.

FOIA requires that the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:

1) We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.

2) We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption.  If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing.  That writing must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.

3) We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records.  We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption.  In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the record.  We must provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.

4) We inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want).  However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.

5) If it is practically impossible for Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible.  This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.

If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request.  However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.

Costs

A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.

You may have to pay for the records that you request from Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office. FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests.  This would include items as staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records.  It cannot include general overhead costs.  Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office charges $15/hr. for staff time for requests requiring more than one hour of staff time to fulfill.

If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request.  The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.

You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested.  This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.

If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office may require payment of the past-due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request.

Commonly used exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure.  Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions:

  • Crime Reports
  • Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
  • Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
  • Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
  • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))

 

 

The Virginia Court System

For more information regarding the State of Virginia Court System please visit:
www.courts.state.va.us

What is a Magistrate?

A principle function of the Magistrate is to provide an independent, unbiased review of complaints brought to the office by police officers, sheriffs, deputies, and citizens. Magistrate duties include determining probable cause for issuing arrest warrants and search warrants. In addition, the Magistrate conducts bond hearings to set bail in instances in which an individual is charged with a criminal offense.
For more information visit the Office of the Magistrate: www.courts.state.va.us

How do I get a Protective Order?

You may request a protective order if you are the victim of family abuse. Family abuse is any act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against a family or household member.
The protective order can require that the person causing the abuse leave the house; have no contact with the victim, including no trespassing on the property, and no further abuse of the victim. There are three types of protective orders: Emergency, Preliminary and Permanent orders.

Emergency Orders are available to individuals who need immediate protection. An abused party may request an emergency order from a magistrate. If the magistrate finds reason to issue the order, it will be in effect for at least 72 hours, allowing enough time for an abused party to file a petition for a preliminary order with the juvenile and domestic relations district court.

The Preliminary Order is issued based on a petition filed by the abused party and after a hearing by a judge to determine that the order is required to protect the health and safety of the petitioner. The preliminary order is in effect for fifteen days. A full hearing at which both the petitioner and the accused abuser must be present will be scheduled during that fifteen-day period.

If the judge finds sufficient reason to issue a Permanent Order during that hearing, the permanent order can be in effect for up to two years. Both parties may petition the court to dissolve or modify the order at any time. Petitions for Preliminary Protective Orders and Permanent Protective Orders are filed through the Court Services Unit of the Fluvanna Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. They can be reached at 434-591-1990 during normal business hours.

Important Information For Domestic Violence Victims Regarding Protective Orders.
If you have an emergency protective order, it expires on the date and time shown at the bottom of the form. If you want a protective order beyond that time, you MUST contact the Court Services Unit at 434-591-1990 in order to request a petition for a protective order. The petition must then be filed with the Fluvanna County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court no later than 4pm the Tuesday before your current order expires in order for it to be placed on the Court's docket the following day.

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How do I obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant?
(This would apply to, but is not limited to, the following: Bad Check warrants, Assault warrants, Trespass warrants, and Property Destruction warrants.)

Definition: A Misdemeanor is a minor crime (as opposed to a felony), which is punishable by fine or imprisonment in a city or county jail rather than in a penitentiary.

Process for Warrants: There are two main ways to go before the Magistrate to obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant. First, a citizen may go before the Magistrate at the Magistrate's Office. The office of the Magistrate who serves Fluvanna County is located at the Central Virginia Regional Jail, on Route 15, in Orange, Virginia. Second, a citizen may go before the Magistrate by way of video link from the Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office. Citizens may also call the Magistrates Office at 540-672-1087; however, warrants are not issued over the phone.

Process to Issue Arrest Warrants and Summonses

Step 1: Probable Cause
Before a Magistrate can issue an arrest warrant or summons in a criminal case, they must use discretion to decide if probably cause exists to issue a process. (Probable cause is a reasonable belief based on facts that would cause a prudent person to feel that the accused committed the offense.) To determine probable cause, the Magistrate must decide that there are facts logically indicating that the accused committed an offense, and that there is some basis for determining that the facts are reliable.

Step 2: Sworn Statements
The facts are presented to the Magistrate in the form of sworn statements of a citizen or a law enforcement officer relating to the commission of an alleged offense. These statements are made under oath, and the Magistrate may require that they be reduced to writing in a criminal complaint form and signed.

Step 3: Issuing Warrants/Summonses
If the Magistrate finds that the facts support a probable cause finding, he or she then issues an arrest warrant or a summons. The Magistrate will issue a summons in lieu of an arrest warrant when the Magistrate believes the accused will appear in court as directed in the summons.

Arrests: In executing the summons, the law enforcement office does not arrest the accused. The accused, however, must appear in court at the time and place specified in the summons.

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How do I obtain a Concealed Hand Gun Permit?

In order to obtain a concealed hand gun permit in Fluvanna County you must first apply for the permit in person with the circuit court clerk at the courthouse.   The VSP link below will give you instructions on what to bring and how much it costs. The website will also give you all of the laws regarding concealed weapons, it will tell you where you can and cannot carry the weapon and what you can possibly do if you are denied the permit.  http://www.vsp.state.va.us.

Where and when can I get fingerprinted?

Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office does fingerprinting at the office on Mondays from 9am-11 am and 1pm-3pm.  You must bring your Driver's License or Identification Card and ten dollars cashThe Sheriff's Office does not except personal checks.  The cost for fingerprinting is ten dollars per request.  In addition to fingerprinting, the Sheriff's Office will do local background checks for you at a cost of ten dollars per request.

How do I obtain a copy of an accident/incident report?

In order to obtain a copy of an accident/incident report you need to contact Executive Assistant Martha Gatlin at (434) 589-8211.  Please contact Mrs. Gatlin before you come to the Sheriff's office so that she has time to gather all of the necessary paperwork you need before you show up.  The cost of a copy of a report is ten dollars for the victim of the crime or accident after 30 days and ten dollars for all other requests.

What do I do if I suspect I am the victim of fraud?

If you suspect that you are either the victim of a fraud, a scam, or that you have received an email that seems fraudulent then you can go to several different websites to report such.  The first website you may visit the National Consumers League's Fraud Center at fraud.org. The second website you can visit is the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.  The third website you can visit and report the potential fraud to is the Internet Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

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