Criminal Unit Telephone: 276-645-7347
Hours: Open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on Mondays through Fridays. The office is closed on government holidays.
Responsibilities and Procedures
The Criminal Unit is responsible for the process and maintenance of felony and misdemeanor cases. Felony cases convene upon being brought before the Grand Jury (see Grand Jury section for more details) after probable cause has been determined in the Bristol General District Court. Felony cases may also convene upon direct indictment by the Grand Jury, meaning the case solely originates in the Bristol Circuit Court and it has not been heard by any previous court. Misdemeanor cases may be appealed from the Bristol General District Court. Misdemeanor appeals include both criminal misdemeanors and traffic appeals. Both felony and misdemeanor cases may be appealed from Bristol Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Each year there are four terms of court. Upon the fourth Tuesday of each month at the start of a new term, a Grand Jury consisting of six jurors is convened. The Commonwealth presents its evidence and witnesses before the jurors who determine if enough probable cause is present for a defendant to be indicted on the charges. The Grand Jury is not tasked with, nor does it determine, guilt or innocence.
Upon summons, a Special Grand Jury may be convened. A Special Grand Jury investigates and reports criminal activity in the jurisdiction of this court.