§ 59.1-201

Civil investigative orders

A. Whenever the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for a county, city, or town has reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in, or is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1, the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for a county, city, or town if, after making a good faith effort to obtain such information, is unable to obtain the data and information necessary to determine whether such violation has occurred, or that it is impractical for him to do so, he may apply to the circuit court within whose jurisdiction the person having information resides, or has its principal place of business, for an investigative order requiring such person to furnish to the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a county, city, or town such data and information as is relevant to the subject matter of the investigation.

B. The circuit courts are empowered to issue investigative orders, authorizing discovery by the same methods and procedures as set forth for civil actions in the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, in connection with investigations of violations of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1 by the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for a county, city, or town. An application for an investigative order shall identify:

1. The specific act or practice alleged to be in violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1;

2. The grounds which shall demonstrate reasonable cause to believe that a violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1 may have occurred, may be occurring or may be about to occur;

3. The category or class of data or information requested in the investigative order; and

4. The reasons why the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a county, city, or town is unable to obtain such data and information, or the reason why it is impractical to do so, without a court order.

C. Within 21 days after the service upon a person of an investigative order, or at any time before the return date specified in such order, whichever is later, such person may file a motion to modify or set aside such investigative order or to seek a protective order as provided by the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Such motion shall specify the grounds for modifying or setting aside the order, and may be based upon the failure of the application or the order to comply with the requirements of this section, or upon any constitutional or other legal basis or privilege of such person.

D. Where the information requested by an investigative order may be derived or ascertained from the business records of the person upon whom the order is served, or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business records, or from a compilation, abstract or summary thereof, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the information is substantially the same for the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a county, city, or town as for the person from whom such information is requested, it shall be sufficient for that person to specify the records from which the requested information may be derived or ascertained, and to afford the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for the county, city, or town reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries thereof.

E. It shall be the duty of the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a county, city, or town, his assistants, employees and agents, to maintain the secrecy of all evidence, documents, data and information obtained through the use of investigative orders or obtained as a result of the voluntary act of the person under investigation and it shall be unlawful for any person participating in such investigations to disclose to any other person not participating in such investigation any information so obtained. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punished in accordance with § 18.2-11. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this section shall not preclude the presentation and disclosure of any information obtained pursuant to this section in any suit or action in any court of this Commonwealth wherein it is alleged that a violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1 has occurred, is occurring or may occur, nor shall this section prevent the disclosure of any such information by the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a county, city, or town to any federal or state law-enforcement authority that has restrictions governing confidentiality and the use of such information similar to those contained in this subsection; however, such disclosures may only be made as to information obtained after July 1, 1979.

F. Upon the failure of a person without lawful excuse to obey an investigative order under this section, the attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for the county, city, or town may initiate contempt proceedings in the circuit court that issued the order to hold such person in contempt.

G. No information, facts or data obtained through an investigative order shall be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding other than for the enforcement of this chapter and the remedies provided herein.

History

1977, c. 635; 1979, c. 493; 1982, c. 13; 1987, c. 464; 1995, c. 703; 2008, c. 485.

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