Why can’t you give me legal advice about things like the neighbor’s tree hanging over my fence or my divorce decree?
The County Attorney’s Office represents and advises the County of Henrico as its client. The attorney-client relationship demands that the office carefully guard the legal interests of the County and avoid potential conflicts of interest. Such conflicts could arise when the County’s legal interests are adverse to those of individual citizens.
In addition, the specialized nature of the office’s practice does not lead to the development of expertise in many areas of the law of interest to private citizens. To provide legal advice to persons who are not clients of the office, especially outside of the office’s expertise, would violate the ethical standards of the Virginia State Bar.
Citizens needing private legal advice may contact the Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 775-0808 or the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. at 648-1012.
Where can I find the Code of Virginia and the Henrico County Code on the Internet?
The full text of the Code of Virginia is available on the website maintained by the General Assembly of Virginia.
The full text of the Henrico County Code is available on the website maintained by the Municipal Code Corporation, the County’s code publisher. Access the Henrico County Code.
Are there any laws or ordinances which apply to noise from barking dogs or loud parties in my neighborhood?
The County’s noise ordinance is found in Chapter 10 of the Henrico County Code. The ordinance prohibits certain noises based on time and distance criteria. It does not guarantee that citizens will not be disturbed by noise from time to time.
Review the County’s noise ordinance.
What can I do about the unkempt condition of my neighbor’s property?
If you believe that your neighbor’s property violates community maintenance standards contained in the Henrico County Code, you may contact the Department of Community Revitalization, or complete an online complaint form.
What is the difference between the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office?
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office handles most criminal prosecutions in the County. These include felonies (such as murder), most misdemeanors (such as trespassing), and all traffic cases. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office represents the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The County Attorney’s Office advises and represents the County of Henrico in civil matters, such as contracts, property sales, and operation of County agencies. Civil matters do not involve fines or jail. The Office also prosecutes violations of the County Code, such as zoning violations.
The Office is the County’s law firm; it cannot give private legal advice.
Where do I submit claims if I have been hurt by a County worker, have a sewer backup, or have any other claim against the County?
The County of Henrico maintains a Self-Insurance Plan to cover liability resulting from general government and public school operations. The coverage is subject to the provisions of state law governing self-insurers and the terms of coverage as approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Plan does not cover claims where the claimant was guilty of misconduct or negligence, the loss was caused by the misconduct or negligence of third parties, or where the County was not at fault. Persons wishing to make claims should visit the File a Claim service page.
What are the rules for establishing residence for attending County schools?
Henrico County Public Schools invites all County students to enroll in the school division. However, children who do not live in the County with a parent or legal guardian may not attend County schools unless specifically permitted by state law or School Board policy. Individual questions should be directed to the Superintendent of Schools.
The School Board does not offer admission to residents of other jurisdictions even if the student is willing to pay tuition. Furthermore, if non-resident students fraudulently attend County schools, their parents or guardian will be charged non-resident tuition for all periods of fraudulent attendance.
What is your office’s practice in prosecuting misdemeanor violations of the Henrico County Code?
The County Attorney’s Office prosecutes most, but not all, non-traffic violations of the County Code. The noise ordinance is one important exception.
Because the County prefers to obtain voluntary compliance without criminal charges, the County attempts to work with citizens before filing summons for violations. Generally, citizens who comply are not charged.
The County’s zoning ordinance is enforced on a complaint basis. When a complaint is received, a County inspector is sent out to determine if there is a violation and to seek voluntary compliance. A summons is generally issued only if the County is unable to obtain voluntary compliance.
Why is your office holding up approval for my letter of credit, contract, or other document?
The County Attorney’s Office has developed standard forms in order to expedite approval of letters of credit, contracts, and other documents. You can find many of these forms posted on the websites of County departments. If you use the standard forms, approval is routinely given once we determine that there is nothing requiring further attention. Review time may vary for non-standard documents, depending on their nature and complexity.
Requests for changes from the standard forms can delay approval simply because of competing demands from the other work in the office, such as litigation. If you wish to suggest changes, submitting proposed language is extremely helpful.
What are the requirements for approval of erosion and sediment control agreements, letters of credit, and BMP declarations?
The Department of Public Works requires various documents and financial guarantees to insure that development activities comply with environmental requirements. The County Attorney’s Office has developed form agreements for erosion and sediment control and other development activities, as well a standard format for letters of credit and BMP (Best Management Practices) declarations. The current standard forms should be obtained from the Department of Public Works.
Letters of credit may be obtained from out-of-town banks. However, to permit easy collection in person, the County requires that all letters of credit be drawable on banks in the metropolitan Richmond area.
What can I do about people putting up flyers and advertisements on my property?
The County’s sign ordinance regulates the signs that persons may put up on their own property, consistent with the free speech protections of the First Amendment to the Constitution. However, the sign ordinance does not directly address the actions of those who put flyers or advertisements on property without the owner’s permission.
Although the County Attorney’s Office does not give advice on private property rights, we note that County personnel routinely remove signs and advertisements placed in the County right-of-way without the County’s permission. These signs and advertisements are discarded at the County’s landfills.
Why can’t I get the name of the person who complained that I am violating the Henrico County Code?
Henrico County generally enforces the County Code on a complaint basis. When it receives complaints of violations, it investigates the complaint and requests voluntary compliance if a violation exists.
Violations of the Henrico County Code are criminal acts classified as misdemeanors. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act permits government bodies to exempt information concerning the identity of complainants in a criminal investigation from disclosure, and the County has traditionally done so.
The County believes that disclosing the names of complainants might lead to retaliation as well as cause increased friction in neighborhoods.
Why doesn’t the County enforce restrictive covenants for subdivisions and other property?
When developing property, owners often record restrictive covenants in the Circuit Court. These restrictive covenants establish conditions for the use of the property by all subsequent purchasers and their lessees.
Although the County Attorney’s Office reviews these covenants to insure that they include language required by the Henrico County Code or proffered conditions in zoning cases, the County does not otherwise dictate the content of the restrictive covenants.
Restrictive covenants are privately established, and they are privately enforced. The County may not and does not enforce restrictive covenants. The restrictive covenants typically state who may enforce their provisions.