Virginia's Judicial System

Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court: Lawyers

The content of this page was provided by the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and has been posted on Virginia's Judicial System Web site as a courtesy to the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Retaining Your Own Lawyer

You may retain your own attorney in any case that is before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. If you need a suggestion about a lawyer's name, address, and phone number, you may look under the category "lawyers" in the Yellow Pages of the Telephone Directory. Another source is the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at a toll-free number, 1-800-552-7977, which is sponsored by the Virginia State Bar.

The Commonwealth's Attorney

The Commonwealth's Attorney serves as the chief law enforcement officer of the City of Lynchburg and has as his/her primary responsibility the prosecution of all felony violations of the Criminal Code of Virginia and such misdemeanor offenses as he/she deems appropriated. The Commonwealth's Attorney further serves as legal advisor to many of the members of the criminal justice system, city government, and the general public.

Commonwealth's Attorney: An Elected Office

As a constitutional officer, the Commonwealth's Attorney is elected to serve a four-year term, and therefore exercises his/her discretion and judgment independent of any other city or state agency or official.

Other Services of the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office

The Commonwealth's Attorney Office consists of attorneys, support staff and the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. The purpose of the Victim-Witness Program is to help ensure that crime victims and witnesses receive fair and compassionate treatment while participating in the criminal justice system. Further, victims of crime who suffer from physical injuries as a result of the crime may apply through the Victim-Witnesses Assistance Program for state compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, to cover medical expenses and other expenses incurred as a result of their victimization. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 455-3760.

Public Defender

The Lynchburg Public Defender Office is an independent state agency that specializes in representing people charged with criminal offenses who can't afford a lawyer. The Public Defender Office receives cases only by appointment from the court. It handles cases in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, General District Court, and Circuit Court for the City of Lynchburg. It also handles appeals in the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court. Public defenders represent both juveniles in delinquency cases and adults on all criminal offenses that could lead to jail time.

The Public Defender's Office is located at 725 Church Street, Allied Arts Building, 8th Floor, Lynchburg, Va. 24504, and can be reached by telephone at 947-2244.

Staffing of the Public Defender's Office

The Public Defender's Office is comprised of eight full-time attorneys. In addition, the attorneys are supported by a staff, which includes one investigator and one sentencing advocate. Attorneys are assigned to cover a specific court docket.

Public Defender's Office Works with the Defendant

When the Public Defender's Office is appointed to represent a defendant, the defendant should contact the office immediately to schedule an appointment with the attorney assigned to that case. In certain circumstances, the defendant's attorney may request a bond review hearing to seek a change in the amount or conditions of bond. Once the magistrate has set the initial bond amount, only a judge can reduce the amount of the bond. Bond reduction requires a hearing, which must be scheduled by the court with the Commonwealth's Attorney. The defendant's attorney cannot help the defendant with the mechanics of posting the bond. It is important that the defendant read the paperwork regarding the bond which may include special conditions. It is extremely important for the defendant to meet with his/her attorney before the court hearing so that the defendant will understand the court process and the Public Defender will be prepared to handle that case.

Court-Appointed Counsel

In some cases a person may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. The same financial circumstances that would qualify a person for representation by a public defender would allow that person to qualify for court-appointed counsel.

A court-appointed lawyer is a lawyer in private practice who volunteers his/her services for a reduced fee. The lawyer is paid by the state for these services. In some circumstances the represented party may be required, as a part of his/her court costs, to pay back the state for the court-appointed lawyer's fee.

Often, court-appointed lawyers serve in criminal cases or delinquency cases when the Public Defender's Office cannot. They also serve in other cases in which a person faces incarceration (such as when someone is facing a contempt of court for failing to obey a court order), or when someone faces termination of their residual parental rights.

Occasionally, at the judge's discretion, a lawyer will be appointed to represent someone in a non-criminal matter such as a custody case or in a case involving abuse and neglect of a child.

Virginia Legal Aid Society

The Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. provides civil legal services to eligible low-income people. There is no charge to clients for legal representation by Legal Aid. However, Legal Aid does not provide representation for termination of parental rights, criminal, or traffic cases.

Legal Aid may provide representation to qualified applicants in the following situations:

  • In custody cases when the client is a parent, when the opposing party is represented by a lawyer, and when the parent is seeking an initial custody order or has an order which an opponent seeks to change;
  • In custody cases where the client is a relative other than a parent and is the primary caretaker of the child and when the opposing party is represented by a lawyer;
  • In child support cases if the opposing party is represented by a lawyer and the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) is not available to represent the client;
  • In cases against DCSE if there is a question of compliance with the law;
  • In limited and significant cases in which an allegation of child abuse has been lodged with the Department of Social Services;
  • In custody cases where there are jurisdictional questions such as "Is this filed the proper court?";
  • In divorces where there is a significant housing or pension interest; and
  • In uncontested divorces once a one-year separation has occurred and child custody and support have previously been decided by a court.

Call Legal Aid at 846-1326 or stop by the office at 513 Church Street for more information.