Virginia Freedom of Information
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located in § 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.
Pursuant to the Act, 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. The Act further provides that all public records are presumed to be open and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.
Furthermore, the policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. Pursuant to 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.