Virginia Judicial System and Court System: How Does it Work?
Virginia’s Judicial System was designed so that all disputes are resolved justly, swiftly and economically. The parts that are needed to carry out this mission are a court system which is unified in its structure and administration, competent and honest judges as well as court personnel and finally, uniform rules of practice and procedure.
Currently, the Virginia Court System is comprised of four levels of courts. They are –
- The Supreme Court
- The Court of Appeals
- The Circuit Courts
- The District Courts
Magistrates also serve as judicial officers with the power to issue different types of processes. Courts are organized in such a way so that there are 31 judicial circuits and 32 judicial districts. Presently, there are more than 2,600 people who work within the judicial branch of government. These 2,600 people are comprised of judges, clerks, and magistrates.
Let's get a better look at how the courts in Virginia operate.
Virginia Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Virginia possesses original as well as appellate jurisdiction. However, its primary function is to review the decisions made by the lower courts including but not limited to the Court of Appeals. Presently, Virginia doesn't allow appeals to the Supreme Court as a matter of right. The exception to this rule are cases which involve the State Corporation Commission, specific disciplinary actions to an attorney as well as a review of the death penalty.
Virginia Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals of Virginia reviews final decisions of circuit courts in matters of a domestic nature. In addition to this, they also look at appeals from the decisions of an administrative agency, traffic infractions, and criminal cases. The only exception to this is criminal cases where a death sentence has been imposed. The Court of Appeals also hears appeals of final decisions of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Committee.
Appeals of criminal, traffic, concealed weapons permit, as well as specific preliminary rulings in felony cases, are presented to the Court of Appeals for request by petition. Appeals of a different nature can be made to the Court of Appeals as a matter of right.
The Court of Appeals also has the jurisdiction to give out writs of mandamus, prohibition as well as habeas corpus in any case where the court would have appellate jurisdiction. In addition to this, they can also hand out writs of actual innocence which are based on non-biological evidence.
Virginia Circuit Courts
The Virginia circuit court is the only trial court of general jurisdiction. The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over monetary claims more than $4,500 and up to $25,000 which it shares with general district courts, exclusive jurisdiction of allegations of a monetary nature where the amount exceeds $25,000, attachments, validity of a county or municipal ordinance or corporate bylaw, divorce proceedings, wills, trusts, estate matters, property disputes, and adoption proceedings. In addition to the above civil actions, the Circuit Courts also have jurisdiction over criminal cases. Their jurisdiction regarding criminal cases includes all felonies and offenses which may be punished by imprisonment of more than a year, misdemeanor offenses and transfer or certification of felony offenses committed by juveniles.
Virginia District Courts
Virginia has a unified district court system which is comprised of the general district as well as the juvenile and domestic relations district courts. There are 32 districts in Virginia. General district courts, as well as juvenile and domestic relations district courts, exist in each city and county.
Learning more about the Virginia Judicial System and Court System will be very beneficial to you should you find yourself in a situation involving the courts.