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Virginia Court Records

Virginia Court Records are official documents created and maintained by the court system in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These records document the proceedings, decisions, and judgments of the various courts in Virginia, including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Circuit Courts, among others.

They are essential for promoting accountability, transparency, and access to justice. Court record in Virginia provides valuable information for legal, historical, and personal research and help to ensure a fair and just legal system.

For individuals involved in legal disputes, court records can also be an essential record of their legal history, which may be necessary for future legal proceedings.

These records can contain a wealth of information related to a legal case, including:

  • Case information like the case number, court location, names of the parties involved, and the nature of the legal dispute
  • Formal documents filed by the parties involved in a legal dispute, including complaints, petitions, answers, and motions
  • Official decisions issued by the court, including orders on motions, rulings on evidence, and judgments on the merits of the case
  • Written or recorded records of court proceedings, including trial testimony, oral arguments, and court hearings
  • Docket entries that document each step in the legal process, including the dates of filings, hearings, and other vital events in the case
  • Physical items or documents presented as evidence during the trial or hearing

Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), anyone can request access to these court information or files unless a specific exemption applies.

Exemptions may apply where record disclosure jeopardizes personal privacy, reveals confidential information, or interferes with ongoing investigations or legal proceedings. Furthermore, most juvenile court records in Virginia are confidential per Virginia Code (VC) section 16.1-305.

Which Virginia Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

To get Virginia Court Records, you should familiarize yourself with the state court system. Virginia has a judicial system consisting of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Trial Courts.

Most public documents in the state are in the following Trial Courts:

Virginia Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts in Virginia have comprehensive jurisdiction over all criminal and civil proceedings but usually only hear cases that exceed the authority of other courts.

The criminal matters handled by Circuit Courts are as follows:

  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors indicted by a grand jury

For civil cases, Circuit Courts have authority over the following:

  • Claims between $4,500 and $25,000
  • Personal injury and wrongful death up to $50,000
  • Adoptions
  • Divorce cases
  • The probate of wills
  • Property conflicts
  • Orders of immediate protection

Virginia General District Courts

General District Courts in Virginia have authority over certain civil and criminal matters.

These courts can hear the following criminal cases:

  • Preliminary proceedings in felony cases
  • Misdemeanors
  • Ordinance violations
  • Traffic violations

Some of the civil cases without financial limits that a General District Court can hear are as follows:

  • Attachment
  • Evictions
  • Freedom of Information Act disputes
  • Personal property division
  • Protective order

Virginia General District Courts share jurisdiction over civil cases with claims between $4,500 and $25,000 and up to $50,000 for personal injury and wrongful death with the Circuit Courts. But they have the only authority to handle civil cases with claims of $4,500 or less.

Furthermore, a General District Court has a Small Claims Division that handles cases with money or property claims of up to $5,000.

Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts in Virginia handle most family law cases (except for divorces) and juvenile and criminal cases.

Some examples of cases that these courts hear are as follows:

  • Adoption
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Child visitation
  • Children in need of supervision
  • Parentage
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Mental health cases involving minors
  • Judicial consent for minor medical procedures
  • Juvenile traffic offenses
  • Emancipation
  • Protective orders

In addition, these courts have jurisdiction over certain crimes involving family members or danger to a child.

General District Courts and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts have the same authority regarding adult mental commitment proceedings.

Moreover, in many counties and cities in Virginia, these two courts are "combined" into a single court with a single clerk.

What are the Common Public Court Records in Virginia?

Some of the most common types of court records that are publicly available in Virginia include the following:

Virginia Civil and Small Claims Records

Civil records from Virginia courts are the legal papers and other records created during civil court cases.

These cases include various legal concerns, such as contract disputes, personal injury claims, property conflicts, and family law matters.

In Virginia, civil claims totaling up to and including $25,000 are typically filed in the General District Courts. However, based on court jurisdictions, you can also find Virginia Civil Records from the Circuit Court in the city or county where the case occurred.

On the other hand, small claims records from Virginia courts refer to the legal documents and records generated during small claims court proceedings.

Small claims in Virginia are civil disputes in which the plaintiff seeks a monetary judgment of up to $5,000 or the recovery of personal property worth up to the same amount.

The small claims courts in Virginia are the Small Claims Divisions of the General District Courts. Therefore, you can find Virginia Small Claims Records in the county's Small Claims Division of the General District Court that heard the case.

Most Virginia Civil and Small Claims Records will typically give you the following information:

  • Case information like the case number, the names of the plaintiff and defendant, and the case filing date
  • Documents generated during the process of discovery, which involves the exchange of information between the parties
  • A complaint document filed by the plaintiff
  • Answer documents filed by the defendant in response to the complaint
  • Court orders during the proceedings, such as orders to produce evidence or appear in court
  • Court's final decision or judgment in the case

Virginia Criminal Records

One of the most common Virginia Court Records is criminal records. Virginia Criminal Records, sometimes known as "rap sheets," are the official records that the Virginia State Police (VSP) and local police departments maintain on persons convicted of a crime.

These records typically include details such as a person's name, date of birth, physical description, fingerprints, mugshot, arrest information, charges filed, court appearances, convictions, sentencing, and other relevant information related to their criminal history in Virginia.

Complete access to Virginia criminal records is generally restricted to authorized law enforcement agencies and individuals with a legitimate need to know, such as employers conducting background checks or individuals seeking to adopt a child.

However, some information from criminal records may be publicly available, such as certain court documents and arrest records.

Generally, you can obtain information from a criminal record in Virginia through the Civil & Applicants Records Exchange (CARE) of VSP.

You must fill out an SP-167 request form and get a money order or certified check made out to the VSP. Then, put them in an envelope with a stamp and a self-addressed label and send the sealed envelope to the CARE mailing address.

Note that requesting a criminal record for someone else requires written approval. For fingerprint-based criminal record checks, you must contact a VSP-approved fingerprinting agency.

Virginia Traffic Records

Virginia Traffic Records refer to traffic violations and accident records available to the general public for access. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDMV) maintains these records, and individuals, organizations, and businesses that need information on drivers, vehicles, or accidents can access them.

Some of the information available in a Virginia Traffic Record include:

  • Driver's personal information, including name, address, and driver's license number
  • Traffic violations, including tickets, citations, and warnings issued to the driver, and the date, location, and type of violation
  • Accident reports, including the date, time, and place of the accident, the extent of property damage and injuries, and the cause of the accident
  • Driver's history, including any suspensions or revocations of the driver's license
  • Vehicle information, such as the make, model, year, and registration information

Traffic violations in Virginia refer to any state traffic laws and regulations breach. These violations can result in fines, penalties, and even a driver's license suspension or revocation. Some common traffic violations in Virginia include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Failure to stop at a red light
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving without a license

Aside from the court that heard the case, you can get information from a traffic record in Virginia online through the VDMV's service portal. In this system, you must log in using the driver's license number (or SSN) and date of birth.

Virginia Probate Records

Virginia Probate Records are legal documents created while settling the estate of a deceased person in the state.

The probate process in Virginia involves proving the validity of the decedent's will (if they had one), identifying and inventorying their assets, settling their taxes and debts, and transferring their unclaimed assets to their beneficiaries or heirs.

The Virginia General Assembly has established several laws and rules regulating probate administration in the state. But the primary laws governing probate in Virginia are in VC Title 64.2.

The Circuit Court in the city or county where the deceased person resided typically handles probate. Thus, they are in charge of maintaining probate records in Virginia.

Once you request these records, the specific contents can vary depending on the period and the individual circumstances of the case, but here are some common types of information and files that you can expect:

  • Wills
  • Inventories or lists of the deceased person's possessions and assets at the time of their death
  • Letters of administration (these are legal documents granting the administrator the authority to handle the deceased person's assets)
  • Legal documents issued by the court related to the probate process, such as orders to pay debts or distribute assets.
  • An appraisal or an assessment of the value of the deceased person's property and possessions
  • Bonds or legal documents that ensure the executor or administrator will faithfully carry out their duties.
  • Guardianship records

Virginia Family Records

Virginia Family Records from courts primarily refer to legal documents and information about cases heard in family courts or the state's Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.

These records may contain a variety of information related to family law cases. The specifics of the documents can vary based on the kind of case, the court, and the case's circumstances. However, some of the information that you can find in a Virginia Family Record include:

  • Personal information about the parties involved in the case, including names, addresses, and contact information
  • Information about the nature of the case, including the type of family law matter being addressed, such as child custody or child support
  • Information about any agreements or settlements reached between the parties, such as custody or support agreements
  • Details about the legal proceedings, such as court orders, hearing transcripts, and other legal documents
  • Financial information related to the case, such as income and asset information, tax returns, and financial statements
  • Information about any court-appointed evaluations or assessments, such as psychological evaluations of the parties or the children involved

It's important to note that some information in family court records may remain confidential to protect the privacy of the parties involved.

In addition to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts, family law cases may also be heard in the Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over divorce, property division, and other related matters.

Therefore, in addition to online access, visit the appropriate courthouse that heard the case to obtain information from Virginia Family Records.

Virginia Bankruptcy Records

Even though Virginia Bankruptcy Records are not a part of the state's trial court system, they are among the most prevalent Virginia Court Records. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, a federal court,  generally keeps bankruptcy records in Virginia.

Virginia Bankruptcy Records refer to the official court documents and records related to bankruptcy cases filed in the state.

The most common types of bankruptcy filings in Virginia are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling the debtor's non-exempt assets to pay off outstanding debts. Several debts, such as credit card debt and medical bills, can be discharged in this chapter. However, some debts, such as student loans and tax debts, are not dischargeable.

On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a "reorganization" bankruptcy that allows the debtor to develop a repayment plan to pay off outstanding debts over three to five years. Debtors with a regular income but struggle to keep up with their debt payments often use this bankruptcy filing.

Regardless of the bankruptcy chapter filed, these records typically reveal the following information:

  • The debtor's name, address, and contact information
  • The type of bankruptcy case filed (Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13)
  • The filing date
  • The name of the bankruptcy court that filed the case
  • A list of the debtor's assets, including real estate, vehicles, and personal property
  • A list of the debtor's liabilities, including outstanding debts and obligations
  • Details of any legal proceedings related to the bankruptcy case, including court orders and judgments
  • Any agreements or settlements reached between the debtor and creditors
  • Information about the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case
  • Any motions or objections filed by creditors or other parties
  • The ultimate disposition of the case, including whether the bankruptcy was discharged or dismissed

How To Get Information From Virginia Bankruptcy Records?

If you need to obtain Virginia bankruptcy records, visit the website of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District or the Western District of Virginia, depending on where the bankruptcy case occurred.

You can use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) on the court's website to get information from a Virginia Bankruptcy Record. You must register or create a PACER account as a new user.

After registering, log in to your account and search for the bankruptcy case you are interested in by entering the debtor's name, case number, or other search criteria.

Once you have located the bankruptcy case, you can view and download the records by paying the appropriate fee.

If you cannot locate the bankruptcy records through the court's website or PACER, contact the court clerk's office for assistance.

The Districts consist of Divisions, which are groups of counties. Check the Eastern and  Western District directories to contact the appropriate clerk's office. For example, bankruptcy cases from Tazewell County are in Roanoke Division, while records from Madison County are in Lynchburg.

You can get physical copies of bankruptcy records in person at the clerk's office.

You can find most Virginia Court Records by visiting Virginia's Judicial System (VJS) website. VJS has several case search systems where you can locate electronic court records.

For statewide search, you can use the Online Case Information System 2.0 to access records such as criminal and traffic case information from trial courts.

You can use the Circuit Court Case Information System for other types of court records.

Unfortunately, not all Virginia Circuit Court case records are accessible via this portal. Alexandria and Fairfax are examples of Circuit Courts that do not disclose case records via the case information system.

You can get court records from Alexandria and Fairfax Circuit Courts by contacting the courts directly. You can find the addresses of all Virginia Circuit Courts on the Individual Circuit Court Homepages.

On the other hand, you can access case records from General District Court through the General District Court Online Case Information System. However, some types of court records are not available in this portal.

Contact the courts directly to obtain court records not available in this system. Use the Individual General District Court Homepages to find the addresses of all Virginia General District Courts.

Courthouses provide access to paper copies of court documents for nominal fees to those who submit requests in person. They may also obtain electronic copies of court records by utilizing the public access computer terminals at the clerks' offices.

If interested, you can also find case information from the Supreme Court through its Appellate Case Management System (ACMS). The Court of Appeals has a separate ACMS page for its records.

Through these systems, you need to enter the  SCV record numbers or combinations of names, case types, lower tribunal, and tribunal case numbers to access case information from these two courts.


Counties in Virginia

Courts in Virginia

Chesterfield Circuit Court9500 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA
Loudoun Circuit Court18 E. Market St., Leesburg, VA
Supreme Court of Virginia100 North Ninth Street, Richmond, VA
Henrico Circuit Court4309 East Parham Road, Henrico, VA
Court of Appeals of Virginia109 North Eighth Street, Richmond, VA
Arlington Circuit Court1425 North Courthouse Road, Arlington, VA
Richmond Circuit Court400 North Ninth Street, Richmond, VA
Richmond County Circuit Court101 Court Circle, Warsaw, VA
Stafford Circuit Court1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA
Spotsylvania Circuit Court9107 Judicial Center Lane, Spotsylvania, VA