Circuit CourtA court of record in which the actual criminal trial takes place.

Defendant: The person charged with committing a crime.

Docket: A schedule of cases to be heard on a particular day in a certain court.

Felony: A serious crime punishable by possible imprisonment for a minimum of one year or more.

General District Court: The court in which most preliminary hearings take place.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court: The court in which all juvenile cases are heard, where either the victim or the defendant is a juvenile, or where the victim or defendant are related, have a child together, or have lived together in the past 12 months.

Misdemeanor: A less serious crime punishable by possible confinement in jail for a maximum of one year, a fine of at most $2500, or both.

Plea Agreement: An agreement between the Commonwealth and defendant as to the charges to which the defendant will plead guilty and/or the time the defendant will receive. If you are a victim, the prosecutor will try to contact you before a plea agreement is formalized in order to give you a full explanation.

Pre-Sentence Report: A background investigation of the defendant prepared for the court prior to sentencing.

Preliminary Hearing: A hearing before a judge to determine if there is probable cause to believe the accused has committed the crime charged.

Probable Cause: Reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person charged committed the crime.

Subpoena: A court order directing you to be present at the time and place stated.




Threatening a victim or witness is a serious crime in Virginia. If you are threatened by a defendant or anyone else in regard to your case, immediately call the Portsmouth Police Department at 911 or the Detective Bureau at 757-393-8536.

Tips on Testifying

  • Dress neatly and be courteous.
  • Be prepared and listen carefully.
  • Speak in a clear, loud voice and look straight at the person asking the questions.
  • Do not guess or make up answers.
  • If one of the lawyers objects to a question, do not answer until the judge has ruled on the objection.
  • Above all never lose your temper.

After Hours Docket Information Line

Call 757-393-8581 after 5:00PM on the day before you have to come to court. Follow the prompts to reach Victim Witness. A recorded message will give you an update on Circuit Court cases for the following day. By calling this number, you may save yourself an unnecessary trip to court.