Potomac News Online | Government: Prince William Judicial Center keeps growing
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For everything from marriage licenses to traffic court, the Prince William Judicial Center is the place to go for a host of legal necessities.
The judicial complex at 9311 Lee Ave., Manassas, is undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion that added four new courtrooms last year, and a new wing of the Manassas jail earlier this year.
The judicial center includes a land records room, prosecutors’ office, the county sheriff’s office and a law library.
Thirteen judges oversee the three court systems located in the courthouse.
General District Court
Prince William General District Court has authority over:
– Traffic offenses (speeding tickets, tickets for expired registration, tickets for expired drivers licenses, etc.)
– Misdemeanor crimes (crimes that are punishable by no more than 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.)
– Criminal offenses involving local ordinances, laws and bylaws of Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park.
– Civil cases involving less than $10,000.
– Preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases.
The General District Court does not conduct jury trials. All cases are heard by one of four judges: Craig D. Johnston, Charles F. Sievers, Peter W. Steketee or Wenda K. Travers.
General District courtrooms and administrative offices are on the second floor of the judicial center. The offices, where you can pay fines or file civil suits, are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The General District Traffic/Criminal Clerks office can be reached at (703) 792-6141. The Civil Clerks office can be reached at (703) 792-6149.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has authority over cases involving:
– Delinquents (juveniles who have committed acts that would be crimes if committed by an adult. In Virginia, a juvenile is anyone under 18.)
– Juveniles accused of traffic violations.
– Children in need of services. (These are juveniles whose behavior, conduct or condition presents or results in a serious threat to their physical safety.)
– Children in need of supervision. (These are juveniles who are either habitually truant, or runaways.)
– Neglected, abandoned or abused children.
– Spousal abuse and adults accused of offenses against a child or family members.
– Visitation, support, custody or parentage disputes.
– Court-ordered rehabilitation services.
– Foster care.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court does not conduct jury trials. All cases are heard by one of five judges: William A. Becker, Janice J. Brice, Paul F. Gluchowski, Mary Grace O’brien or James B. Robeson. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court clerk’s office and courtrooms are on the first floor of the judicial center. The clerk’s office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call (703) 792-6160.
The Circuit Court is the highest court in the judicial center. It handles appeals from the General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts. Additionally, it has authority over:
– Civil claims greater than $10,000.
– All criminal felony cases. (Offenses punishable by imprisonment in state prisons.)
– Validity of county or city bylaws and ordinances.
– Equity suits. (Claims asking for something other than money).
– Divorce and adoption proceedings.
– Wills, trusts, estate matters and property disputes.
The Circuit Court conducts jury and non-jury trials. Five judges preside over Circuit Court cases: Rossie D. Alston Jr., Lon E. Farris, William D. Hamblen, LeRoy F. Millette Jr. and Richard B. Potter.
The courtrooms and their administrative offices are on the third floor of the judicial center. Information about a criminal case can be obtained from the Criminal Division at (703) 792-6025. Information about civil matters can be obtained from the Civil Division at (703) 792-6029. Offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Circuit Court Clerk
The Clerk of the Circuit Court is an elected officer who heads the Department of Records.
The clerk’s office issues marriage licenses, accepts passport applications, probates wills, appoints guardians and records deeds and other land transactions. The office also maintains records, including trusts, wills, marriages, divorces, military discharges, adoptions, criminal and civil court records and registrations for all medical professionals.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court is David C. Mabie, perhaps best known for officiating at a marathon of weddings each Valentine’s Day. Mabie’s term as clerk expires in 2008.
Public Services and Probate Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court are in the Old Courthouse at 9248 Lee Ave., Manassas. Public Services issues marriage licenses, accepts passport applications and issues notary public qualifications. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Passport applications are accepted between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Probates and wills are done by appointment only. Call (703) 792-6085 for probate. Call (703) 792-6045 for public services.
All other offices of the Clerk of the Circuit Court are located on the third floor of the judicial center (see Circuit Court, above.) They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Land Records Division of the Circuit Court is on the third floor of the judicial center, room 300. Here, you can find records of land sales, inheritances and other transactions.
This division also holds public documents including deeds, land records, judgments, lists of heirs, marriages and wills. The focus of this division is to make documents available for public inspection and research by microfilm, microfiche and computers. The office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The latest new records can be recorded is 3:45 p.m. Call (703) 792-6037.
A magistrate reviews complaints from law enforcement officers and residents. The magistrate may issue warrants, emergency protective orders, summonses, bonds, search warrants, subpoenas, and involuntary mental detention orders. Magistrates conduct bond hearings to set bail for those charged with criminal offenses. Additionally, a magistrate may also accept prepayments for traffic infractions and minor misdemeanors. The magistrate’s office serves residents and law enforcement 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are two magistrate’s offices, one in Woodbridge at 15948 Donald Curtis Drive, near the Ferlazzo Government Center. Call (703) 792-7360. The Manassas office is at 9320 Lee Avenue, the Manassas jail. Call (703) 792-6260.
The Prince William Sheriff’s office is the county’s oldest law enforcement agency, established in 1731. Sheriff Glendell Hill and his 79 deputies oversee courthouse security and the transportation of inmates. They also process thousands of civil and criminal papers each year. Sheriff’s deputies also perform evictions and assist county and city police in law enforcement duties. The sheriff’s office is on the first floor of the courthouse. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (703) 792-6070.
The Office of the Commonwealths Attorney prosecutes all criminal and traffic cases occurring within Prince William County and Manassas and all felonies committed in Manassas Park.
Additionally, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney works with multi-jurisdictional police departments and magistrates to provide 24-hour-a-day legal advice, handles special prosecutions in other jurisdictions, statewide lectures and instructs at the Police Academy.
The position of commonwealth’s attorney is an elected office. Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert has been in office for more than three decades. He oversees 20 assistant commonwealths attorneys with more than 250 years of combined legal experience. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is on the second floor of the judicial center. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached at (703) 792-6050.
The Victim-Witness Assistance Program is administered by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Manassas. Its goal is to assist victims and witnesses of crimes. Services include providing crime victims with information about criminal cases and referring them to programs that provide emotional, physical and psychological support. The program has a staff of six employees and volunteers.
If you are a victim/witness involved in a criminal case in Prince William County, Manassas or Manassas Park, you should call the victim/witness assistance program if:
– you have questions about your role as a witness,
– you would like an explanation of court procedures,
– you need someone to speak to your employer about your appearance as a witness on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
– your personal property is being held as evidence and you want to know if you can recover it,
– you want assistance in filing for compensation under the Crime Victim’s Compensation Act,
– you want assistance in preparing your Victim Impact Statement,
– you want help in preparing your restitution forms,
– you need a referral to social service agencies that provide emergency assistance to crime victims,
– you are not receiving restitution payments ordered by the court,
– you have received crime-related threats or harassment,
– you need information regarding the status of your case.
The program is at 9401 Grant Ave., Manassas. The office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (703) 392-7083.