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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Are mug shots available for federal defendants?

    No. Department of Justice policy prohibits the release of mug shots for all defendants charged with federal crimes. An exception to this rule is when a defendant is a fugitive and the release of their photo would serve a legitimate law enforcement function.

  2. What information can be released regarding a federal criminal case?

    The name, age, residence, employment, and marital status of all defendants charged can be released; the substance of the charge(s), limited to the wording contained in the charging document; the identity of the investigating and/or arresting agency and the length and scope of the investigation; and the circumstances immediately surrounding an arrest, including the time and place of arrest, resistance, pursuit and possession and/or use of weapons.

  3. What information cannot be released regarding a federal criminal case?

    Observations about a defendant’s character; statements, admissions, confessions or alibis attributable to a defendant or the refusal or failure of the accused to make a statement; reference to investigative procedures such as fingerprints, polygraph examinations, ballistic tests or laboratory tests, or the refusal by the defendant to submit to such tests or examinations; statements concerning the identity or credibility of prospective witnesses; statements concerning evidence or argument in the case, whether or not it is anticipated that such evidence or argument will be used at trial; any opinion of the accused’s guilt or the possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense charged or the possibility of a plea to a lesser offense; information concerning a defendant’s prior criminal record; addresses or names of victims and/or witnesses; and photographs of the defendant.

  4. I am following a case that goes to trial next week. I will not be able to make it to court for the entire trial, can I call the press office to get daily updates on the trial?

    No. It is improper for the United States Attorney’s Office to make any public statements during a jury trial.

  5. How does the U.S. Attorney’s Office Distribute press releases?

    Our office maintains an e-mail distribution list, organized by division (Roanoke, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Danville and Abingdon). Any media outlet wishing to be added to our lists, please see the "contact us" page.

Updated January 3, 2024