Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court

General Information

I. JDR Court

The JDR Courts are district courts, which in Virginia means that they are not courts of record and there are no jury trials. All cases are heard and decided by a judge. Parties to a case in JDR can appeal the final decisions to be heard in the Circuit Court.

The JDR Court handles both criminal and civil cases involving family members, cohabitants and/or juveniles.  To name only a few of the cases in which this Victim/Witness Assistance Program could help with are:

  • Cases involving domestic homicide, manslaughter or malicious wounding,
  • Cases involving adult family/household members who have been subjected to acts of domestic violence or sexual assault,
  • Cases involving juveniles who have been subjected to acts of domestic violence or sexual battery,
  • Cases involving adults accused of child abuse,
  • Cases of juveniles accused of delinquent acts which results in victimization,
  • Court-ordered family protective order process.




Any person under the age of eighteen.

Delinquent Act:

An act that has been designated as a crime or is a violation of a court order.

Delinquent Child:

A child who is convicted of a delinquent act.

Adjudicatory Hearing (Trial):

The actual trial in JDR court for misdemeanor cases is called the adjudicatory hearing. It is at the adjudicatory hearing that the judge determines whether the facts as stated in the petition or warrant are true.


The court may order various dispositions for both juvenile and adult defendant's upon convictions.  Punishments can range from court ordered probation to active incarceration/detention sentences.  There are a variety of programs and/or services that the defendant may be ordered to actively participate with and be required to successfully complete.  The disposition decision is not always made immediately in JDR criminal cases, because the judge may require additional information to be presented to the court such as personal background history and/or criminal history, before determining what corrective/punishment measures to take.

Court Clerk:

Each JDR Court has a clerk's office that processes all case papers, keeps court records, and provides information to the people involved in a case (to the extent permitted by law).  Anyone wishing to request a witness to appear at a court hearing may do so by the issuance of a subpoena at the court clerk's office.


JDR Courts differ from other courts in their duty to protect the confidentiality and privacy of children and/or family members who have legal matters before the court. The general public is excluded from all JDR Court hearings, unless the judge authorizes a person to be present. Exceptions may be authorized by the presiding judge.

II. Juvenile and Adult Criminal Cases

Adult Criminal Cases

Adult misdemeanor criminal cases in the JDR Court are tried under the same standards and procedures that are applied in cases heard in the general district court, where most other adults are tried. Adult criminal cases heard by the JDR Court generally involve offenses committed against children or family or household members.

Preliminary Hearing

Adult felony criminal cases against children or family or household members are brought into the JDR Court after arrest for a preliminary hearing. This hearing is held to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the accused adult committed the felony.  If probable cause is found then the case is transferred to Circuit Court for further processing; otherwise the case is dismissed.


Parties to a civil case and the defendant in a criminal case heard in JDR Court have a right to appeal the case to the Circuit Court. This includes the petitioning for a protective order.  Certain rules and deadlines apply to appeals of JDR Court decisions.


(For more detailed information regarding the Virginia Court System please visit the

Supreme Court of Virginia website at: www.courts.state.va.us)