Find District of Columbia courts and courthouses, such as federal, state, district, superior, criminal, common, circuit, judicial, judiciary, divorce, appeals, family, traffic, and small claims courts. Courts provide information on legal cases, law documents, case searches, and appeals.
A Court is a government institution where legal disputes are resolved in accordance with the law. In Criminal Courts, the government brings a case against a defendant who is accused of breaking the law. In Civil Courts, the Court settles disputes between citizens that they are unable to resolve on their own.
The Court system in the United States is made up of a federal Court system and fifty state Court systems. In each system, there are two general types of Courts: Trial Courts and Appellate Courts. Trial Courts hear cases for the first time. In a Trial Court, both sides of the dispute present evidence to support their version of events, and a jury is usually called on to decide the case. One judge presides over the case in a Trial Court. Appellate Courts hear appeals of decisions reached at Trial Courts. No new evidence is presented in Appellate Court. A judge or panel of judges decides the appeal rather than a jury.
In the federal Court system, District Courts serve as the Trial Courts. In the state Court systems, Trial Courts are further grouped into Courts of general jurisdiction and Courts of limited jurisdiction. Courts of general jurisdiction are Courts that can hear cases of any kind, including felonies. The names for Courts of general jurisdiction vary from state to state, but they are often referred to as Superior Courts or District Courts and may be organized to hear cases within certain geographic areas, such as counties. Courts of limited jurisdiction may be limited to hearing only cases involving misdemeanors, small claims, or traffic and other minor violations. Courts of limited jurisdiction may also only hear cases on specific subject matter, such as Probate Courts and Family Courts.
The Appellate Courts in the federal Court system consist of twelve Circuit Courts that are organized regionally and the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the highest Court in the country. Appellate Courts at the state level mirror the federal structure, with one or more Appellate Courts and a State Supreme Court.