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The Guide to District of Columbia Court Records


The District of Columbia court system consists of the Superior Court which contains the following divisions: Civil Division, Criminal Division, Family Court, Domestic Violence Unit, Probate Division, and Tax Division.
 
The District of Columbia has a unified trial court system that consists only of Superior Courts. Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all criminal and civil cases, except for cases within exclusive Federal Court or United States District Court jurisdiction. Superior Courts have six main court divisions referred to as the Civil Division, the Criminal Division, the Family Court, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Probate Division and the Tax Division.

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District of Columbia Court Directory
 


 
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District of Columbia Superior Courts

Superior Courts are organized into six main divisions: the Civil Division, the Criminal Division, the Family Court, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Probate Division and the Tax Division.

In addition to trial court divisions, there are several other Superior Court divisions that provide services and supervision for certain types of cases.

Superior Courts have a Social Services Division that handles probation supervision for juvenile delinquency cases and cases that are eligible for the Juvenile Drug Court.

Superior Courts also have a Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division, which handles cases referred from Superior Court for alternative dispute resolution,? including mediation and arbitration. There is also a Crime Victims Compensation Program that is considered part of the Superior Court as well.

There is an agency called The Court System that is described as part of the Washington D.C. judicial branch, but this is an administrative support office for all D.C. Courts and does not handle any cases.

District of Columbia Civil Division

The Civil Division has four branches: the Civil Actions Branch, the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch, the Landlord and Tenant Branch, and the Quality Review Branch.

1. The Civil Actions Branch handles civil cases with claims for more than $5,000, exclusive of interest, fees and costs, as well cases requesting equitable relief.

2. The Small Claims and Conciliation Branch handles cases with total claims for less than $5000 (not including interest, fees or costs) that also do not ask for equitable relief or involves certain issues about interests in real property.

3. The Landlord and Tenant Branch is primarily for eviction cases filed by landlords against tenants or other occupants of real property. Tenants have the right to make claims against their landlord after a case has been filed. In addition, tenants can file cases against their landlord in the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch if their claims total less than $5,000 and if they are not asking the Court to order the landlord do something, such as repair a health hazard. Tenants can file claims against the landlord in the Civil Actions Branch if their claims total more than $5,000 and if they are asking the Court to order the landlord to do anything. If a tenant is seeking repairs for their home, the Tenant can also call a Housing Inspector at the D.C. Rental Accommodations Office, file a petition and request a hearing.

4. The Quality Review Branch provides administrative support to the Civil Division and does not handle cases.

District of Columbia Criminal Division

The Criminal Division handles most criminal cases, including felony criminal cases, most misdemeanor cases and certain traffic cases.

Some misdemeanor criminal cases involving intra-family offenses? are handled by the Domestic Violence Unit, which is separate from the Criminal Division.

The Criminal Division also operates Community Courts, which handle some traffic cases and some misdemeanor cases in certain areas of Washington, D.C. Community Courts generally handle "quality of life"? misdemeanors, and have flexibility to impose court-supervised community service and referrals to social services.

District of Columbia Family Court

The Family Court has four main branches: the Domestic Relations Branch, the Juvenile and Neglect Branch, the Paternity and Child Support Branch, and the Mental Health and Habilitation Branch.

1. The Domestic Relations Branch. Examples of cases handled by the Domestic Relation Branch include but are not limited to: divorce, legal separation, custody, guardianship, adoption, and termination of parental rights. In addition, this branch manages the Marriage Bureau Section.

2. The Juvenile and Neglect Branch. The Juvenile and Neglect Branch handles most cases involving juvenile delinquency, child abuse, and child neglect. This branch includes the Family Treatment Court, which is a program designed for eligible drug-dependent mothers charged with child neglect.

3. The Paternity and Child Support Branch handles cases involving paternity and child support.

4. The Mental Health and Habilitaion Branch handles cases including involuntary hospitalization, mental health treatment, and treatment for people with developmental delays.

Family Court also has a branch called The Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) that handles the assignment of attorneys in child abuse and neglect cases, and a Marriage Bureau that issues marriage licenses and minister authorizations and maintains marriage records.

District of Columbia Domestic Violence Unit

The Domestic Violence Unit is considered a "cross-jurisdictional unit"? that handles certain types of civil and criminal cases involving domestic violence or threats of domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Unit handles cases when parties are related to each other, including by blood, legal custody, marriage, having a child together, sharing a residence, or by a past or current dating relationship.

Criminal cases heard by the Domestic Violence Unit include violations of protection orders and some misdemeanor intra-family? offenses.

Civil cases heard by the Domestic Violence Unit include domestic violence protection orders. The Domestic Violence Unit may also handle some types of cases related to a domestic violence case, including divorce, child custody, visitation, paternity and child support.

Protection Order cases begin at Domestic Violence Intake Centers.

District of Columbia Probate Division

The Probate Division handles wills, estates, trusts, guardianships of minors, guardianships and conservatorships for incapacitated adults.

The Probate Division has an Office of the Register of Wills, which supervises the Auditing and Appraisals Branch and the Probate Operations Branch.

The Probate Operations Branch consists of the Small Estates Section, the Decedents Estates and Guardianship of Minors Section and the Interventions and Trusts Branch.

District of Columbia Tax Division

The Tax Division has exclusive jurisdiction to handle cases involving appeals and reviews of tax assessments and civil tax penalties, as well as criminal cases related to D.C. taxes.

Where to find court cases in District of Columbia

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in District of Columbia.
 

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
CivilCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
General Civil - Unlimited
 Most or all General Civil - Unlimited cases can be found in the Civil Division
     
General Civil - Limited
 Most or all General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Civil Division
     
Small Claims
 Most or all Small Claims cases can be found in the Civil Division
     
Civil Equity
 Most or all Civil Equity cases can be found in the Civil Division
 
 Some Civil Equity cases can be found in the Family Court
 
 Some Civil Equity cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
Complex Commercial
 Most or all Complex Commercial cases can be found in the Civil Division
     
Foreclosures and Liens
 Most or all Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Civil Division
    
 Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Tax Division
Real Estate Title and Boundary
 Most or all Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Civil Division
 
 Some Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Family Court
 
 Some Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
Landlord / Tenant
 Most or all Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Civil Division
     
Ordinance Violations 
 Most or all Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Criminal Division
    
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders   
 Most or all Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
Administrative Agency Appeals
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Civil Division
 
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Family Court
  
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Tax Division
CriminalCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
Felony 
 Most or all Felony cases can be found in the Criminal Division
    
Felony Preliminary Hearings 
 Most or all Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Criminal Division
    
Misdemeanors 
 Most or all Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Criminal Division
 
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
 
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Tax Division
Ordinance Violations 
 Most or all Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Criminal Division
    
Juvenile  
 Most or all Juvenile cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Traffic and Infractions 
 Most or all Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Criminal Division
    
Domestic RelationsCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
Divorce  
 Most or all Divorce cases can be found in the Family Court
 Some Divorce cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
Child Custody and Visitation  
 Most or all Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Family Court
 Some Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
Child Support  
 Most or all Child Support cases can be found in the Family Court
 Some Child Support cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
Paternity  
 Most or all Paternity cases can be found in the Family Court
 Some Paternity cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
Domestic Violence Protection Order   
 Most or all Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
  
JuvenileCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
Adoptions  
 Most or all Adoptions cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Juvenile Delinquency  
 Most or all Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Child Abuse and Neglect  
 Most or all Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Termination of Parental Rights  
 Most or all Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Children in Need of Supervision  
 Most or all Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Mental HealthCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
Involuntary Commitments  
 Most or all Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Family Court
   
Other Mental Health Cases 
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Criminal Division
 Most or all Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Family Court
 
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
ProbateCivil DivisionCriminal DivisionFamily CourtDomestic Violence UnitProbate DivisionTax Division
Wills & Estates    
 Most or all Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
Name Changes  
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Family Court
 
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
Trusts    
 Most or all Trusts cases can be found in the Probate Division
 
Guardianships and Conservatorships  
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Family Court
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Domestic Violence Unit
 Most or all Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Probate Division
 


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