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Overview of the Virginia Court System

Virginia's court system includes the Circuit Court and two District Courts. The Circuit Court is the only trial court of general jurisdiction and presides over a wide variety of cases including, but not limited to, serious criminal cases (felonies), divorce matters, adoptions, and civil law suits involving money/damages in excess of $25,000. The Circuit Court also serves as the appellate court to the two District Courts, which have limited jurisdiction. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is elected, whereas the Clerks of the two District Courts are appointed by the judges of their respective courts. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District (J & DR) Court is limited to presiding over cases involving juvenile delinquency and traffic violations, child abuse, spousal abuse, support and custody matters involving minors, and children in need of services. The General District Court presides over civil cases involving amounts up to $25,000, misdemeanor criminal cases, and adult traffic violations.

Final decisions of the District Courts may be appealed to the Circuit Court. Circuit Court appeals cases are heard de novo (i.e., completely new). Unlike Circuit Courts, District Courts do not conduct jury trials nor do they have jurisdiction to adjudicate felony cases. Instead the District Courts are limited to holding preliminary hearings for felony cases to merely establish probable cause.

For cases involving monetary disputes between $4,500 and $25,000, General District Courts and Circuit Courts have concurrent jurisdiction. Some litigants choose to pursue legal action through the General District Court since the cost of filing suits is less than that in the Circuit Court. In addition, because forms for legal pleadings may be obtained from the General District Court and not the Circuit Court, some litigants find it more advantageous to file suit in the General District Court. Claims for less than $4,500 can be initiated only in General District Courts.

For civil cases exceeding $25,000, the Circuit Court has exclusive original jurisdiction. In addition, Circuit Courts have jurisdiction to preside over all types of criminal cases, including felonies and misdemeanor charges certified by a grand jury. Circuit Courts also preside over chancery/equity matters (or those claims seeking judgments for something other than money). These include, but are not limited to, the following: divorce proceedings; will, trust and estate matters; name changes; property disputes; adoption proceedings; employee grievances; administrative appeals (i.e., zoning, real estate assessment, etc.); and a variety of other actions.  The Circuit Court Clerk is an elected official with responsibilities extending beyond judicial-related business to include non-judicial and fiscal activities as well.

Circuit Court decisions may be appealed to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Virginia, depending on the type of case involved. Death penalty, lawyer disbarment, and most civil cases are appealed to the Supreme Court. While death penalty and lawyer disbarment cases are matters of right, civil appeals must be initiated by filing a petition for appeal. Traffic infractions, domestic relations and other criminal cases may be appealed from the Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals.

Contact Information for Chesterfield Courts

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The two district courts and the circuit court are three entirely separate entities.  The appropriate Clerk’s Office should be contacted to ensure proper assistance is obtained.  Referring to the Overview of Virginia’s Court System should prove helpful in determining which Clerk’s Office to contact.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court  

Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Clerk's Office
P. O. Box 520 (Note: Do not use PO Box on or after January 1, 2017 - use physical address)
Chesterfield, VA 23832
(804) 748-1379
Physical address: 7000 Lucy Corr Boulevard, Chesterfield, VA 23832

General District Court  

Chesterfield General District Court Clerk's Office
P. O. Box 144
Chesterfield, VA 23832
(804) 748-1231
Physical address: 9500 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832

Circuit Court 

Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk's Office 
P. O. Box 125
Chesterfield, VA 23832
(804) 748-1241
Physical address: 9500 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832