Virginia Court Records

Why Virginia Court Records are Available to the Public?

In 1968, the Virginia State Legislature passed a law named the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. This law enables the last changes in 2000 and aims to make sure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The law is similar to the Virginia Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are held. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act intent is to make all records, including criminal and court records, available to the public without expressing the purpose of copying, analyzing, and searching.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted the Virginia Freedom Information Act, it expressively declared that access to information about the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state. In 1968, the Virginia General Assembly adopted the Freedom of Information Act and granted the public access to all governmental records not exempted by a specific statute. Subsequent amendments have lengthened the list of specific, discretionary exemptions and have enabled the requester to recover litigation costs if successful in court.  By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is to safeguard the government's accountability to the public.

How the Virginia Court Process Functions?

Most cases in Virginia courts begin in one of the 95 superior or trial courts in the state’s 95 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state to check decisions of the Court of Appeals to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below

 Court

Small Claims

Civil

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

The filing fee for either the defendant or the plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Discovery allowed

No

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not need a U.S. citizenship to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and asks the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot offer you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Virginia Courts Interpreter Search page. Also, see the web page with interpreter information on this website Foreign Language Services.

How Virginia Court Records Are Structured?

The court records group is for civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $250,000. Close to 175,000 civil court records are filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Emloyment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $5,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 100,000 of small claims cases is filed statewide every year. 

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
Virginia State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Virginia Warrenton Courthouse 1862

Virginia Warrenton Courthouse 1862

  • State archives hold over 11,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • The Court of Appeals of Virginia hears appeals from decisions of Virginia's circuit courts and the Virginia Worker's Compensation Commission.
  • There are 120 Circuit Courts in Virginia divided among 31 judicial circuits.
  • The highest court in Virginia is the Virginia Supreme Court.
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