The Virginia court system consists of four levels of courts: the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the circuit courts, and the district courts. In addition, magistrates serve as judicial officers with authority to issue various types of processes. The courts are organized into 31 judicial circuits and 32 similar judicial districts. Nelson County is in the 24th Judicial District of Virginia.
The circuit court is the trial court of general jurisdiction in Virginia, and the court has authority to try a full range of both civil and criminal cases. Civil cases involve disputes essentially private in nature between two or more parties; criminal cases are controversies between the Commonwealth and persons accused of a crime. Only in a circuit court is a jury provided for the trial of many of these disputes and controversies.
The Virginia circuit court system is composed of 31 judicial circuits with 120 separate circuit courts in the various counties and cities of the Commonwealth. The Supreme Court of Virginia establishes the rules of practice and procedure for the circuit courts, and the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court serves as the administrator of the circuit court system.
General District Court
Serving the Commonwealth through 32 judicial districts, the general district court is a limited jurisdiction trial court that hears civil cases involving amounts in controversy up to $15,000, and conducts trials for traffic infractions and misdemeanor offenses.
The general district court does not conduct jury trials. All cases in this court are heard by a judge. Jury trials are held only in circuit court, as provided by the Constitution of Virginia.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Serving the Commonwealth through 32 judicial districts, the juvenile and domestic relations district court is a limited jurisdiction trial court that hears cases involving children and families.
Juvenile and domestic relations district courts differ from other courts in their duty to protect the confidentiality and privacy of juveniles and their families who have legal matters before the court. In addition to protecting the public and holding delinquent juveniles accountable, the court considers services needed to provide for rehabilitation. As a district court, this court does not conduct jury trials. Also, like all other courts in the Commonwealth, protection of victim rights and constitutional safeguards remain the same.