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Official Opinions


November 2010 Opinions
Please click on Opinion number to view entire opinion.

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  Official opinions do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.  

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505).  A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.


Requestor Summary
10-105 The Honorable Robert B. Bell
Member, House of Delegates
Searches and seizures of students' cellular phones and laptops are permitted when there is a reasonable suspicion that the student is violating the law or the rules of the school, and school officials should not share explicit materials depicting minors with other school personnel, but rather that the material should be brought to the attention of the appropriate law enforcement agents.
10-109 The Honorable Bill Watson
Sheriff, City of Portsmouth
Virginia Code § 17.1-272 authorizes the sheriff to charge an initial fee of $25 for service of a writ of possession and to add $12 to that fee for each additional defendant who is served.
10-096 The Honorable B.J. Roberts, Sheriff
City of Hampton
A sheriff's office is permitted to assist a local school division with enforcing the compulsory attendance laws by serving notice of an upcoming meeting to the parents or custodians of a truant student, provided the local school board, division superintendent or the administration of a school has requested such assistance from the Sheriff.
10-106 The Honorable Janet D. Howell
Member, Senate of Virginia;
Chair, Virginia State Crime Commission
The exemption from criminal prosecution found in § 46.2-920 does not require emergency vehicle operators to activate the vehicle's lights or siren when doing so is not reasonably necessary.
10-092 Richard D. Holcomb, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

The Department of Motor Vehicles has authority to accept or to refuse to accept an Employment Authorization Document, standing alone, as documentary evidence of lawful status in the United States as required by § 46.2-328.1. Also, the Department is not authorized to take any steps with regard to an individual who has been issued a driver's license, permit, or ID card in accor-dance with § 46.2-328.1, but who has subsequently become subject to removal or deportation proceedings, other than to require such individual, upon application for a renewal, duplicate or reissue of the license, permit, or ID card, to provide again documentary evidence of lawful status, provided that the Department has been notified by a government agency that the individual is not legally in the United States. Finally, there is no authority under § 46.2-328.1 for the Department to cancel a driver's license, permit, or ID card once it is issued in accordance with § 46.2-328.1, even if the individual has been deported.

10-088 Bradley C. Ratliff, Esquire
Town Attorney, Town of Richlands
Because the former town attorney served as an independent contractor rather than as an employee, he is ineligible to participate in the Virginia Retirement System ("VRS").
10-049 The Honorable R. Lee Ware, Jr.
Member, House of Delegates
Based on the facts available, that the Board of Supervisors made an appropriation to the School Board and, therefore, did not have the authority to reduce an appropriation previously made.
10-099 Hononorable John T. Frey, Clerk
Circuit Court of Fairfax County
Section 8.01-435 does not authorize confessions of judgment by third parties appointed by attorneys-in-fact with “full power of substitution;” such confessions would violate public policy.
10-080 Kevin J. Burke, Esquire
County Attorney, Fauquier County
Water and sewer construction plans are subject to the requirement that the Sanitation Authority review the plans upon referral from the County, and the review is subject to statutory time limitations.
10-062 Honorable Robert S. Wertz, Jr.
Commissioner of the Revenue
Loudoun County

A married person applying for a real property tax exemption authorized by § 58.1-3210 must report both the applicant’s net worth and his or her spouse’s net worth to determine net combined financial worth as required by § 58.1-3211(2) irrespective of whether such spouse has separated from or abandoned the applicant or whether the spouse’s name appears on the deed.