FREDERICK COUNTY COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
POLICY ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS
This office has established the following policy and procedures concerning compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act as enacted in Section 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 be withheld if a specific statutory exemption or other law applies to those records.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicholas Manthos is the custodian of all records for the Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office; therefore, all FOIA requests submitted to any employee of this office should be immediately directed to his attention.
- 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.
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 Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office when receiving your request if you put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request and gives this office a clear statement of what records you are requesting so there is no misunderstanding over verbal request. However, this office cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect not to put it in writing.
- You must provide your name and legal address.
- Your request must identify the records you are seeking with “reasonable specificity.”It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting.It requires that the request be specific enough so that this office can identify and locate the records you are seeking.
- Your request must ask for records or documents.FOIA gives you the right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of this office.Nor does FOIA require this office to create a record that does not already exist.
- You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by this office.You may elect to receive records electronically, via e-mail or a computer disk or to receive a printed copy of those records.
- If this office has questions about your request, please cooperate with our efforts to clarify the type of records you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about the response to a large request.This office may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that it understands what records you are seeking.
COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY’S OFFICE RESPONSIBILITY IN RESPONDING TO REQUESTS
- This office must respond to your request within five (5) working days of receiving it.“Day One” is considered the day after your request is received, per Va. Code Section 1-120(A). The five day period does not include weekends or holidays.
- The reason behind your request is irrelevant and you do not have to state why you want the records before this office responds to your request.
- FOIA requires this office to make one of the following responses to your request within the five day period:
- Provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
- Withhold all of the records you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption.If all the records are being withheld, this office will send you a response in writing.That response will identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Virginia Code that allows this office to withhold the records.
- Provide some of the records that you requested, but withhold other records.This office cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption.In that instance, this office may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and will provide you with the remainder of the record.This office will provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Virginia Code that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
- Inform you that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (this office does not have the records you want). However, if this office knows that another public body has the requested records, we will provide you with contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
- If it is practically impossible for this office to respond to your request in the five-day period, we will state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible.This will allow this office seven (7) additional working days to respond to your requests.
WHERE TO SEND A FOIA REQUEST OR QUESTIONS REGARDING FOIA
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney
107 North Kent Street, 4th Floor
Winchester, VA 22601