Frequently Asked Court-Related Questions


  • The Virginia Court System
  • What is a Magistrate?
  • What is a Protective Order?
  • How Do I get a Protective Order?
  • How do I obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant?
  • Process to Issue Arrest Warrants and Summonses
  • How do I obtain a concealed hand gun permit?
  • Where and when can I get fingerprinted?
  • What do I do if I suspect I am the victim of fraud?

The Virginia Court System

For more information regarding the State of Virginia Court System please visit:

What is a Magistrate?

A principle function of the Magistrate is to provide an independent, unbiased review of complaints brought to the office by police officers, sheriffs, deputies, and citizens. Magistrate duties include determining probable cause for issuing arrest warrants and search warrants. In addition, the Magistrate conducts bond hearings to set bail in instances in which an individual is charged with a criminal offense.

For more information visit the Office of the Magistrate:

How do I get a Protective Order? Or What is a Protective Order?

You may request a protective order if you are the victim of family abuse. Family abuse is any act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against a family or household member.

The protective order can require that the person causing the abuse leave the house; have no contact with the victim, including no trespassing on the property, and no further abuse of the victim.
There are three types of protective orders: Emergency, Preliminary and Permanent orders.

Emergency Orders are available to individuals who need immediate protection. An abused party may request an emergency order from a magistrate. If the magistrate finds reason to issue the order, it will be in effect for at least 72 hours, allowing enough time for an abused party to file a petition for a preliminary order with the juvenile and domestic relations district court.

The Preliminary Order is issued based on a petition filed by the abused party and after a hearing by a judge to determine that the order is required to protect the health and safety of the petitioner. The preliminary order is in effect for fifteen days. A full hearing at which both the petitioner and the accused abuser must be present will be scheduled during that fifteen-day period.

If the judge finds sufficient reason to issue a Permanent Order during that hearing, the permanent order can be in effect for up to two years. Both parties may petition the court to dissolve or modify the order at any time. Petitions for Preliminary Protective Orders and Permanent Protective Orders are filed through the Court Services Unit of the Hopewell Combined Court. They can be reached at (804) 541-2257 during normal business hours.

Important Information For Domestic Violence Victims Regarding Protective Orders:
If you have an emergency protective order, it expires on the date and time shown at the bottom of the form. If you want a protective order beyond that time, you MUST contact the Court Services Unit at (804) 541-2311 in order to request a petition for a protective order. The petition must then be filed with the Hopewell Combined Court no later than 4pm the Tuesday before your current order expires in order for it to be placed on the Court’s docket.

How do I obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant?

(This would apply to, but is not limited to, the following: Bad Check warrants, Assault warrants, Trespass warrants, and Property Destruction warrants.)

Definition: A Misdemeanor is a minor crime (as opposed to a felony), which is punishable by fine or imprisonment in a city or county jail rather than in a penitentiary.

Process for Warrants: An individual wishing to go before the Magistrate to obtain a Misdemeanor Warrant must go before the Magistrate. The office of the Magistrate who serves Hopewell City is located at the Riverside Regional Jail, off River road, in Prince George, Virginia.

Process to Issue Arrest Warrants and Summonses:

Step 1: Probable Cause

Before a Magistrate can issue an arrest warrant or summons in a criminal case, they must use discretion to decide if probably cause exists to issue a process. (Probable cause is a reasonable belief based on facts that would cause a prudent person to feel that the accused committed the offense.) To determine probable cause, the Magistrate must decide that there are facts logically indicating that the accused committed an offense, and that there is some basis for determining that the facts are reliable.

Step 2: Sworn Statements

The facts are presented to the Magistrate in the form of sworn statements of a citizen or a law enforcement officer relating to the commission of an alleged offense. These statements are made under oath, and the Magistrate may require that they be reduced to writing in a criminal complaint form and signed.

Step 3: Issuing Warrants/Summonses

If the Magistrate finds that the facts support a probable cause finding, he or she then issues an arrest warrant or a summons. The Magistrate will issue a
summons in lieu of an arrest warrant when the Magistrate believes the accused will appear in court as directed in the summons.

Arrests: In executing the summons, the law enforcement officer does not arrest the accused. The accused, however, must appear in court at the time and place specified in the summons.

How do I obtain a Concealed Hand Gun Permit?

In order to obtain a concealed hand gun permit in the City of Hopewell you must first apply for the permit in person with the Circuit Court Clerk at the Courthouse. The application must be accompanied by the following:

  •  A self-addressed stamped envelope
  •  The fee of 50.00 in CASH! No checks or credit/debit cards can be accepted
  •  Your Identification
  •  Training Certificate (if needed, see below)
  • Applications are also available through the State Police at the following web site:
  • Persons wishing to obtain a concealed handgun permit are required to apply in the City or County of their residence (i.e., only Hopewell residents may apply through the Hopewell Circuit Court).
  • Applicants who appear in person to have their signature acknowledged must present a driver’s license or comparable government-issued photo I.D.
  • Applicants should provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope for use in forwarding the permit, if granted.
  • First-time applicants are required to provide proof of competency with a handgun.

        Individuals who hold a permit from another state and who wish to obtain a permit from this Court must provide proof of competency with a handgun as well.

        **There are many ways to satisfy this requirement. Visit the VSP site for more information**

  • The processing fee is $50. Payment may only be remitted by cash.
  • Notarized applications may be submitted by mail to: Hopewell Circuit Court, 100 E Broadway, Hopewell, VA 23860.
  • Processing of these applications can take up to 45 days. The Sheriff’s Office performs your background check and forwards the application to the Hopewell Police Department for further investigation. The application then appears before the Circuit Court Judge who enters an order either granting or denying the permit.
  • The Clerk’s Office will mail the permit (or notice of denial) to the applicant in the self-addressed, stamped envelope previously provided by the applicant. Please allow 45 days from the time the completed application is filed with the Clerk’s Office.
  •  Fingerprinting and a skills test for the permit are NO LONGER NEEDED by law.

The VSP link below will give you instructions on what to bring and how much it costs. The website will also give you all of the laws regarding concealed weapons, it will tell you where you can and cannot carry the weapon and what you can possibly do if you are denied the permit.

Where and when can I get fingerprinted?

The Hopewell Sheriff’s Office does perform fingerprinting, as well as the Hopewell Police Department on an appointment basis. You must bring your Driver’s License or Identification Card. In addition to fingerprinting, the Sheriff’s Office will do local background checks for you on a case-by-case basis. For more information call the Sheriff’s Office at (804) 541-2300.

What do I do if I suspect I am the victim of fraud?

If you suspect that you are either the victim of a fraud, a scam, or that you have received an email that seems fraudulent then you can go to several different websites to report such. The first website you may visit the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center at The second website you can visit is the Federal Trade Commission at The third website you can visit and report the potential fraud to is the Internet Complaint Center at

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