What you need to know about your court appearances
You have received a summons or have been noticed to appear in the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. You need to know that:
The scheduled time of your appearance is on your summons. You must appear on time. If you do not appear on time, the Judge could issue a Rule or a warrant for your arrest for failing to appear.
You should allow for extra travel time when you are coming to the Courthouse. Traffic in Northern Virginia is often heavy whether it is rush hour or not. If you are taking public transportation, allow extra time because buses do not run frequently. You also need time to park and walk to the Courthouse. Refer to the web site for directions to the Courthouse and for parking instructions.
Although your case is scheduled for a specific time, you may be at the Courthouse for several hours. Several cases are docketed for the same time. Because many people can be involved in a case, it may take a while for that case to be ready to be presented to the Judge. Sometimes cases go to trial and other cases get delayed. Be prepared with something to occupy your time.
You need to dress appropriately. You will be appearing before a judge in a courthouse. Dressing neatly shows respect for the Court. Dress as if you are going to a job interview.
If you are coming to court for a criminal charge, you need to attend the Advisement hearing so that, if necessary an attorney may be appointed. You will have one assigned for your scheduled court date. If you are coming to court for a civil case, it is your responsibility to hire an attorney prior to your court appearance. Attorneys should be hired enough in advance of your court date so that he or she has time to prepare your case.
If you have questions about how to hire an attorney, you may call the Fairfax Lawyer Referral Service at 703-246-3780.
If you are noticed to appear in court and you are unable to appear, you need to file a Motion for a Continuance. That can be done by going to Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Pre-Court Window on the third floor of the Fairfax County Courthouse; the clerks will explain the process and help you fill out the appropriate forms. Only a judge can grant a continuance in a case. If you have an emergency the day of your court appearance and can not appear, you need to call 703-246-3367, immediately and let the court know. Emergencies must be very serious in order for a judge to excuse your absence that day.
If you have been subpoenaed to court as a witness, you must appear.
If the victim of the offense is a family member such as a sister or brother, they must appear in court with you. A case cannot go forward unless the victims are here.
If you need an interpreter because you do not understand or speak English well, you can call 703-236-3088. The court has Spanish interpreters at all time; interpreters for other languages must be assigned for your specific court date.
If you need special accommodations because of physical challenges, you can call 703-246-3367 or 711 (TTY) to make arrangements.
If you have children, try to get a babysitter for them and leave them at home. If you must bring them to court, bring diapers, bottles, food, and toys with which they can play quietly. There is very little space for children to run around in, and you may be here for several hours.