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Official Opinions


August 2013 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.  They are not "rulings" and 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.


Opinion #




The Honorable Barbara O. Carraway, CPA
Chesapeake City Treasurer

A city treasurer is authorized to enter into an agreement with the local Commonwealth’s Attorney for the collection of delinquent court debt.  Further, the city treasurer is authorized to receive a contingent collection fee provided the percentage amount of this fee is no higher than 35 percent of any amounts recovered.  Finally, the city treasurer may receive an administrative fee under § 58.1-3958 in addition to the contingent collection fee.

The Honorable Stephen H. Martin
Member, Senate of Virginia

Section 3.2-6528 authorizes a locality to charge a kennel establishment more than $50.00 in local license taxes in circumstances where the establishment maintains multiple blocks of kennels, however, the locality may not charge more than $50.00 for any one individual kennel block. 

The Honorable Lacey E. Putney
Member, House of Delegates

Section 15.2-2204(B) of the Code of Virginia requires a local planning commission to give written notice to the owner of each parcel of land involved in a downzoning, notwithstanding the fact that other rezoning proposals under consideration include increases in density allowances which, considered in conjunction with the downzoning, result in no net loss of subdividable lots in the locality.

The Honorable Scott A. Surovell
Member, House of Delegates

House Bill No. 2338, as codified in § 19.2-324.1, is constitutional; the legislation does not infringe upon the protections against double jeopardy contained in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of Virginia.  Further, no amendment to the Constitution of Virginia was necessary for this enactment to take effect.

The Honorable Terry G. Kilgore
Member, House of Delegates

A local governing body may not mandate that individuals not employed by the clerk be granted access to a case management system without the clerk’s authorization.

The Honorable Scott A. Surovell
Member, House of Delegates

A Commonwealth’s Attorney is authorized to request that a bill of particulars be ordered in a district court where a motion to suppress evidence is filed that includes no factual basis for the motion.


Honorable Christopher P. Stolle
Member, House of Delegates

The Virginia Department of Health may utilize expedited partner therapy if it does so in accordance with § 54.1-3303(C).

Honorable Phillip P. Puckett
Member, Senate of Virginia

The County may abandon a bridge that is neither in the State Highway System nor the secondary highway system if the bridge is no longer necessary or if abandonment would serve the public interest.  Upon such abandonment, the bridge’s ownership normally will revert to the owner of the underlying fee, if any such owner exists.  In addition, if the County owns the fee, it lawfully may convey the bridge property to a private party in exchange for consideration by either a public or private sale, and, that such consideration may include the County’s making of a monetary payment to the purchaser.  Finally, no opinion can be rendered regarding whether the County would retain liability following its abandonment of a bridge needing repair or replacement, for such determination of liability would depend on specific facts existing at the time of occurrence of injury or damage.

Honorable Phillip P. Puckett
Member, Senate of Virginia

Section 33.1-72.1 of the Code of Virginia provides the requirements and funding options to improve a road to be taken into the secondary system of highways by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Whether the covenant described would be an impediment to acceptance into the secondary system of state highways requires a determination of fact that is beyond the scope of this opinion.

Honorable Philip J. Kellam
Commissioner of the Revenue
City of Virginia Beach

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, Inc. is exempt from local real and personal property taxes as a consequence of licensure as a category of hospital if the commissioner of the revenue determines that it is operated not for profit, but to promote the charitable purposes of the organization, and that the property belongs to and is actually and exclusively occupied and used by the organization.

Honorable Tony Wilt
Member, House of Delegates

Local public school boards have authority over the care, management, and control of the property of the school division and as such are separate and apart from the local government, and the employees of the school board are not local government employees for purposes of § 15.2-915. Therefore, local school districts may prohibit an employee from storing a lawfully possessed firearm and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle on school district property.