The Circuit Court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Virginia. The Circuit Court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $15,000. It shares authority with the General District Court to hear matters involving between $4,500 and $15,000. The Circuit Court has the authority to hear serious criminal cases called felonies.
The Circuit Court also handles family matters, including divorce. In addition, the Circuit Court hears cases appealed from the General District Court and from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer elected to an eight-year term. The clerk's duties are twofold: to administer the Circuit Court's judicial proceedings and serve as record keeper for the city.
The court that most people have contact with is the General District Court. The General District Court handles traffic tickets with the exception of parking citations. The General District Court also hears minor criminal cases known as misdemeanors and conducts preliminary hearings for more serious criminal cases called felonies.
The Fredericksburg General District Court is divided into the Criminal & Traffic Division and the Civil Division. The Civil Court's maximum allowable amount is $25,000.00 The Small Claims Court's maximum allowable amount is $5,000.00.
In Virginia, a juvenile is any person under 18 years of age. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court hears all matters involving juveniles such as criminal or traffic matters. Juvenile delinquency cases are cases involving a minor under the age of 18 who has been accused of committing an offense that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult. Other juvenile offenses may be referred to as status offenses. Status offenses are those acts that are unlawful only because they are committed by a minor.
In addition, this court handles other matters involving the family such as custody, support and visitation. The court also hears family abuse cases, cases where adults have been accused of child abuse or neglect, and criminal cases where the defendant and alleged victim are family or household members.
Virginia's Judicial System
The Virginia Judicial System provides an overview of the court system in Virginia, frequently asked questions, publications, links to mediators, and links to legal information among other topics.