Court Security

Court Security Responsibilities

The City of Suffolk Sheriff's Office is responsible for the safety and security of all who enter the building as well as assist in the daily operations of each court. The Mills E Godwin Court Complex not only houses the courtrooms for the Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, but also Court Services and the Commonwealth Attorney's Office.

Courtroom Guidelines

  • Be dressed appropriately when you enter the Courthouse Building
  • Hats and sunglasses shall be removed
  • No chewing gum
  • No food or beverages allowed
  • No shorts, tank tops or similar apparel allowed
  • No cell phones permitted in court building 
  • Adhere to all courtroom rules

Court Division Responsibilities

The Court Division is responsible for maintaining order within the City of Suffolk Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courtrooms. This division also provides support services to judges as situations dictate, manages jurors both in the courtroom and when sequestered, transports defendants and inmates to appear before the court and performs other duties as required by the courts

General District Court

The General District Court handles most traffic violations, hears minor criminal cases known as misdemeanors and conducts preliminary hearings for more serious criminal cases called felonies. The General District Courts have exclusive authority to hear civil cases with claims between $4,500 and$15,000. Examples of civil cases are landlord and tenant disputes, contract disputes and personal injury actions. The Court that most people have contact with is the General District Court. 

Juvenile & Domestic Relations District

In Virginia, a juvenile is any person under 18 years of age. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court hear matters involving juveniles such as criminal or traffic matters. Juvenile delinquency matters are cases involving a minor under the age of 18 who have been accused of committing an offense that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult.

Other juvenile offenses may be referred to as status offenses. Status offenses are those acts that are unlawful only because they are committed by a minor. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court also handles other matters involving the family such as custody, support and visitation. The court hears family abuse cases, cases where adults have been accused of child abuse or neglect, and criminal cases where the alleged defendant and victim are family or household members.

Circuit Court

The Circuit Court is the trial court with the broadest power in Virginia. The Circuit Court handles all civil cases with claims of more than $25,000. It shares authority with the General District Court to hear matters between $4,500 and $25,000.

The Circuit Court hears serious criminal cases called felonies. The Circuit Court also handles family matters, including divorce and custody. In addition, the Circuit Court hears cases appealed from the General District Court and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.