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Finding Court Records in Virginia

Virginia Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the Virginia state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Virginia trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, General District Courts, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases but typically only handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Virginia Courts by County.

Virginia Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases but typically handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Criminal cases heard by Circuit Courts include felonies and lesser-included offenses, and misdemeanors charged in Circuit Court by a grand jury indictment.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include general civil claims for more than $4500, exclusive of interest and attorney fees. Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over civil claims for more than $25,000. Circuit Courts also handle divorce cases, adoptions, property disputes, the probate of wills, and emergency protective orders.

Virginia General District Courts

General District Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by General District Courts include preliminary hearings in felony cases, misdemeanors, ordinance violations, and traffic infractions.

General District Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over most general civil claims for less than $4500, exclusive of interest and attorney fees. General District Courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over claims for more than $4500 but less than $25000, exclusive of interest and attorney fees.

General District Courts have a Small Claims Division to handle cases involving money or property claims up to $5000.

General District Courts also hear civil cases without financial limits on claims, including attachment, unlawful entry or detainer (evictions), Freedom of Information Act disputes, the partition of personal property, and protective orders.

General District Courts share jurisdiction with Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts over adult mental commitment proceedings.

In many Virginia counties and independent cities, General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts are organized into a "combined" court with a single clerk.

Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts have jurisdiction over most domestic relations cases (except for divorce), juvenile cases, and some criminal cases.

Cases heard by Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts include child custody, child visitation, child support, parentage, child abuse and neglect, adoption, termination of parental rights, certain juvenile offenses including traffic offenses, children in need of supervision, mental health cases involving minors, judicial consent to medical procedures for a child, emancipation, and protective orders.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts may handle certain criminal offenses involving family members or harm to a child.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts share jurisdiction with General District Courts over adult mental commitment proceedings.

In many Virginia counties and independent cities, General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts are organized into a "combined" court with a single clerk.

Virginia Drug Treatment Courts

Some courts may have Drug Treatment Court divisions for certain types of cases.

Where to Find Court Cases in Virginia

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

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

Case Type Court Type
Civil Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases Some Cases  
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Some Cases  
Small Claims   Most or All Cases  
Civil Equity Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases    
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Some Cases  
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases    
Landlord / Tenant   Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases  
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases    
Criminal Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
Felony Most or All Cases    
Felony Preliminary Hearings   Some Cases  
Misdemeanors Some Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Traffic and Infractions   Most or All Cases Some Cases
Domestic Relations Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
Divorce Most or All Cases    
Child Custody and Visitation Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Child Support Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Paternity Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Domestic Violence Protection Order Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases
Juvenile Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
Adoptions Some Cases   Some Cases
Juvenile Delinquency     Most or All Cases
Child Abuse and Neglect     Most or All Cases
Termination of Parental Rights Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Children in Need of Supervision     Most or All Cases
Mental Health Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
Involuntary Commitments   Some Cases Some Cases
Other Mental Health Cases Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Probate Circuit Courts General District Courts Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts
Wills & Estates Most or All Cases    
Name Changes Some Cases   Some Cases
Trusts Most or All Cases    
Guardianships and Conservatorships Most or All Cases    

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