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Official Opinions


May 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 #



Cynthia E. Hudson, Esquire
City Attorney for the City of Hampton

The City of Hampton may lawfully conduct churning operations to detect crimes involving the diversion of tobacco products.  Further, funds derived from a churning operation, of which the city ultimately may obtain an ownership interest, are not exempt from general laws governing the use of local government funds.  In addition, the Office of the Attorney General cannot definitively opine on the ownership of the completed operation’s residual funds and other assets.  Finally, the City of Hampton may not appropriate or expend such funds until it establishes a lawful ownership interest in them.


The Honorable Gregory D. Habeeb
The Honorable Johnny S. Joannou
Members, House of Delegates

The Honorable Richard D. Holcomb
Commissioner, Department of Motor Vehicles

Mr. Bruce Gold, Executive Director
Motor Vehicle Dealer Board

The proper tax rate to impose on a vehicle sale transaction in Virginia is the tax rate in effect at the time of the sale, when ownership or possession of the vehicle is transferred, whichever of these events of sale occurs first.  After the tax is imposed on the sales transaction, the tax is then owed and is paid and collected when the vehicle is titled by the DMV.  


The Honorable H. Roger Zurn, Jr.
Treasurer, County of Loudoun

Because the Code does not distinguish between the source of taxing authority, with each of the presented taxes constituting an assessment against real estate, and because the Code does not otherwise provide for priority of liens based on delinquent payments of such assessed taxes, the Treasurer, in both of the scenarios presented, should apply any payment first to the most delinquent assessed taxes, and, second, ratably or pro-rata between such taxes when they have accrued at the same time.

The Honorable Barry D. Knight
Member, House of Delegates

Absent a statutory rule to the contrary, a member of a state board or commission holds over after the conclusion of his term and may continue to serve in his office and execute the full range of duties of that office until the qualification of his successor.


The Honorable Charles McConnell, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Virginia Housing Development Authority

Officers and employees of VHDA are prohibited by COIA from participating as owners in the federal Housing Choice Voucher program administered by VHDA; current regulations governing the program expressly bar officers and certain employees of VHDA from participating in the program as owners.


The Honorable C.T. Woody, Jr., Sheriff, City of Richmond

Because the requirements set forth in
§ 32.1-288 apply only to human remains that have been the subject of a death investigation conducted by the OCME pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 32.1, such requirements do not oblige the sheriff to dispose of other unclaimed remains.


The Honorable Kenneth L. Alger, II, Esquire, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Page County

The provisions of § 22.1-287 may be reconciled with those of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Based upon the factual scenario described, the school superintendent possessed authority to rely upon FERPA provisions to deny access to a pupil’s records to a law enforcement officer seeking information in the course of his duties.