The answer is simple; but, since you're probably asking because either you or someone you care about has a charge, the best way to explain is to walk you through two (2) easy to follow-steps:
- Call the relevant City/County Clerk's Office (most likely the Clerk of the General District Court) to get your actual case number; or, if you're computer savvy, navigate your way to the correct Court via the following link https://eapps.courts.state.va.us/gdcourts/
- Once you have the case number from the Clerk or the Courts website, look at the first two letters of your case number.
- If it starts with "GC" [e.g. GC160000-00] then it's a criminal charge and, candidly, you should probably have a lawyer with you.
- If it starts with "GT" [e.g. GT160000-00] then it's a traffic charge and, as to the need for a lawyer, see below for further comments.
In regards to traffic charges, be aware that DUI, Reckless Driving, Failure to Maintain Control and/or Improper Brakes are all considered "traffic charges" but none of them are pre-payable and they are all Class 1 Misdemeanors which require your attendance in-Court (unless you get a waiver of appearance - which we can often negotiate for most non- DUI clients). Notably, however, these "traffic charges" can- and often do - carry high fines and/or jail time! In sum, most "traffic charges" in Virginia are serious enough to at least, consult a lawyer...just make sure you talk with someone who'll give you the straight scoop!
So, call us first! We are good at what we do; but, don't take our word for it. Instead, see for yourself...check out client testimonials on our website and read client reviews posted with the Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org/western-virginia/business-reviews/attorneys-and-lawyers/the-daniel-law-firm-pc-in-roanoke-va-90007130/customer-reviews
Finally, one last helpful tidbit, your official case number is NOT the same number which was printed on the warrant or summons that you received from the police officer.