Eyewitness Identification Reform

Virginia law requires the Department of State Police and each local police department and sheriff's office to establish a written policy and procedure for conducting in-person and photographic lineups. In 2011 the Criminal Justice Services Board established a model policy and training standards that includes blind administration, proper fillers, proper instructions, and confidence statements. Effective: 2003; Amended most recently: 2011.

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Recording of Interrogations

State statute provides that the entirety of a custodial interrogation conducted at a place of detention be recorded. If an officer is unable to make an audiovisual recording, then they shall make an audio recording. Effective: 2020.

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Post Conviction DNA Testing

Any person convicted of a felony may petition the circuit court that entered the conviction for DNA testing so long as they do not unreasonably delay in filing the petition. In 2020 the law was amended to permit DNA testing at private accredited laboratories. Effective 2001; Amended most recently: 2020.

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Evidence Preservation

State statute requires that if a defendant is sentenced to death, all biological evidence must be automatically preserved until the defendant is executed. For non-death penalty cases, the defendant must make a motion to preserve biological evidence, which must then be preserved for up to 15 years from the time of conviction, unless the court determines that it should be preserved longer. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2005.

Virginia's statute does NOT meet the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.

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Exoneree Compensation

If his conviction has been vacated, a wrongfully convicted person is entitled to 90% of the VA per capita personal income for each year of incarceration plus a tuition award worth $10,000 in the VA community college system. However, claimant may not have plead guilty, unless he/she was charged with a capital offense. VA HB 203 amended the law to permit compensation to a person who is granted a writ of actual innocence based on nonbiological evidence and a person who has been granted an absolute pardon for the commission of a crime that he did not commit. Effective: 2004; Amended most recently: 2014.

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Access to Criminal Investigative Records

In 2021, Virginia passed a law to presume public access to closed criminal investigate records under the state’s Freedom of Information law. Prior to the law's passage, law enforcement agencies were allowed full discretion to decide whether or not to disclose requested criminal investigative files. Effective: July 2021.

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