The law of Virginia consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, regulatory, case law, and local law. The Code of Virginia forms the general statutory law.
See also: Government of Virginia
The Constitution of Virginia is the foremost source of state law. Legislation is enacted by the General Assembly, published in the Acts of Assembly, and codified in the Code of Virginia. State agency regulations (sometimes called administrative law) are published in the Virginia Register of Regulations and codified in the Virginia Administrative Code. Virginia's legal system is based on common law, which is interpreted by case law through the decisions of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and circuit courts, which are published in the Virginia Reports, Virginia Court of Appeals Reports, and Virginia Circuit Court Opinions, respectively. Counties and municipalities may also promulgate local ordinances.
The foremost source of state law is the Constitution of Virginia. The Virginia Constitution in turn is subordinate to the Constitution of the United States, which is the supreme law of the land.
Pursuant to the state constitution, the Virginia General Assembly has enacted legislation. Its session laws are published in the Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia. They are in turn codified in the Code of Virginia.
Pursuant to certain statutes, state agencies have promulgated regulations, also known as administrative law. The Virginia Register of Regulations is the official publication of state government regulations, petitions for rulemaking, emergency regulations, Governor's executive orders, state lottery regulations and director's orders, and State Corporation Commission orders and regulations. The Virginia Administrative Code is the compilation of permanent regulations that have the force of law. The Virginia Register of Regulations is published by the Virginia Code Commission.
The legal system of Virginia is based on the common law. Like all U.S. states except Louisiana, Virginia has a reception statute providing for the "reception" of English law. All statutes, regulations, and ordinances are subject to judicial review. Pursuant to common law tradition, the courts of Virginia have developed a large body of case law through the decisions of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and circuit courts.
The decisions of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and circuit courts are published in the Virginia Reports, Virginia Court of Appeals Reports, and Virginia Circuit Court Opinions, respectively. Most circuit court decisions are not published. The decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are also published in the unofficial South Eastern Reporter.
Opinions are first published online as a slip opinion, a pamphlet that contains only one decision. Slip opinions are then compiled in soft-bound volumes called advance sheets, and assigned citations (volume and page number) for the official reporters. Advance sheets are then compiled and printed in the hard-bound volumes of the reporters.
The Code of Virginia provides that the maximum penalty for the violation of a local ordinance is the penalty provided by general law for a class 1 misdemeanor.