The General District Court decides all traffic offenses involving local ordinances of the county or city where it is located and all traffic misdemeanors under state law. A misdemeanor is any charge which carries a penalty of no more than one year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
The Code of Virginia defines traffic offenses and sets penalties. For many offenses the penalty described is a fine. The General Assembly has established a processing fee which is charged to every convicted defendant and paid into the State treasury. Any defendant represented by a court appointed attorney or public defender who is convicted must reimburse the court for the representation costs. Additional fees are added for courthouse security and maintenance and a variety of other funds established by the Virginia Assembly.
The District Courts do not conduct jury trials. All cases are heard by a judge. Each defendant in a traffic case is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Upon consideration of evidence the judge decides the question of guilt or innocence. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will then determine which penalty, as set by the Code, is proper and lawful.