Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 19.2. Criminal Procedure
Chapter 3. Magistrates
12/7/2021

Article 3. The Magistrate System.

§ 19.2-33. Office of magistrate.

The office of magistrate shall be vested with all the authority, duties and obligations previously vested in the office of justice of the peace prior to January 1, 1974.

Code 1950, § 19.1-381; 1973, c. 545; 1975, c. 495.

§ 19.2-34. Number of magistrates.

There shall be appointed as many magistrates as are necessary for the effective administration of justice. The positions of all employees of the magistrate system shall be authorized by the Committee on District Courts established pursuant to § 16.1-69.33.

Code 1950, § 19.1-382; 1973, c. 545; 1974, c. 484; 1975, c. 495; 1976, c. 138; 1977, c. 198; 1981, c. 4; 1992, c. 55; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-35. Appointment; supervision generally.

Magistrates and any other personnel in the office of the magistrate shall be appointed by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia in consultation with the chief judges of the circuit courts having jurisdiction within the region. Each magistrate shall be appointed to serve one or more of the magisterial regions created by the Executive Secretary. Each magisterial region shall be comprised of one or more judicial districts. The Executive Secretary shall have full supervisory authority over the magistrates so appointed. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the only methods for the selection of magistrates shall be as set out in this section.

No person shall be appointed under this section until he has submitted his fingerprints to be used for the conduct of a national criminal records search and a Virginia criminal history records search. No person with a criminal conviction for a felony shall be appointed as a magistrate.

Code 1950, § 19.1-383; 1973, c. 545; 1974, c. 484; 1975, c. 495; 1976, c. 138; 1981, c. 4; 1988, c. 511; 2002, c. 310; 2004, cc. 370, 452; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-36. Chief magistrates.

A. The Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia may appoint chief magistrates, for the purpose of assisting in the training of the magistrates and being responsible to the Executive Secretary for the conduct of the magistrates and to further assist the Office of the Executive Secretary in the operation of one or more of the magisterial regions. The chief magistrate shall exercise direct daily supervision over the magistrates he supervises and shall have the power to suspend without pay a magistrate after consultation and with the concurrence of the Executive Secretary.

B. To be eligible for appointment as chief magistrate, a person shall meet all of the qualifications of a magistrate under § 19.2-37 and must be a member in good standing of the Virginia State Bar. His appointment as chief magistrate shall terminate effective on the date on which his membership in good standing ceases. The requirements of this subsection relating to membership in the Virginia State Bar shall not apply to any person appointed as a chief magistrate before July 1, 2008, who continues in that capacity without a break in service.

Code 1950, § 19.1-384; 1973, c. 545; 1974, c. 484; 1975, c. 495; 1984, c. 37; 2004, c. 370; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-37. Magistrates; eligibility for appointment; restrictions on activities.

A. Any person who is a United States citizen and resident of the Commonwealth may be appointed to the office of magistrate under this title subject to the limitations of Chapter 28 (§ 2.2-2800 et seq.) of Title 2.2 and of this section.

B. Every person appointed as a magistrate on and after July 1, 2008, shall be required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education. A person initially appointed as a magistrate prior to July 1, 2008, who continues in office without a break in service is not required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education.

C. A person shall not be eligible for appointment as a magistrate under the provisions of this title: (a) if such person is a law-enforcement officer; (b) if such person or his spouse is a clerk, deputy or assistant clerk, or employee of any such clerk of a district or circuit court, provided that the Committee on District Courts may authorize a magistrate to assist in the district court clerk's office on a part-time basis; (c) if the parent, child, spouse, or sibling of such person is a district or circuit court judge in the magisterial region where he will serve; or (d) if such person is the chief executive officer, or a member of the board of supervisors, town or city council, or other governing body for any political subdivision of the Commonwealth.

D. No magistrate shall issue any warrant or process in complaint of his spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, parent-in-law, child-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, first cousin, guardian or ward.

E. A magistrate may not engage in any other activity for financial gain during the hours that he is serving on duty as a magistrate. A magistrate may not be employed outside his duty hours without the prior written approval of the Executive Secretary.

F. No person appointed as a magistrate on or after July 1, 2008, may engage in the practice of law.

G. A magistrate who is designated as a marriage celebrant under § 20-25 may not accept a fee, a gratuity, or any other thing of value for exercise of authority as a marriage celebrant.

Code 1950, § 19.1-385; 1973, c. 545; 1975, c. 495; 1976, c. 138; 1978, cc. 463, 760; 1984, c. 41; 1985, c. 45; 1986, c. 202; 1996, c. 112; 1999, c. 267; 2004, c. 830; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-38. Probationary period; compensation and benefits; vacancies; revocation of appointment.

Persons appointed as magistrates under the provisions of this chapter shall serve at the pleasure of the Executive Secretary. Upon appointment by the Executive Secretary, every magistrate shall serve initially for a nine-month probationary period during which the magistrate must complete the minimum training program as established by the Committee on District Courts and satisfactorily complete a certification examination. Any magistrate who fails to successfully pass the certification examination shall not serve beyond the nine-month probationary period. The probationary period described in this section shall not apply to any magistrate serving on July 1, 2008, who has successfully completed the minimum training program and passed the certification examination, provided there is no break in service after July 1, 2008. Magistrates shall be entitled to compensation and other benefits only from the time they take office.

Code 1950, § 19.1-386; 1973, c. 545; 1974, c. 484; 1975, c. 495; 1980, c. 505; 2004, c. 370; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-38.1. Training standards; training prerequisite to reappointment; waiver.

The Committee on District Courts shall establish minimum training and certification standards for magistrates in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be established by the Committee. Every magistrate shall comply with these standards and shall complete the minimum training standards as a prerequisite for continuing to serve as magistrate beyond the nine-month probationary period as established by § 19.2-38. The Committee on District Courts upon request may waive any portion of the minimum training standards for an individual magistrate.

1980, c. 505; 1985, c. 132; 1995, c. 611; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-39. Bond.

Every magistrate appointed under the provisions of this chapter shall enter into bond in the sum of $5,000, made payable to the Commonwealth, before a clerk of a circuit court, for the faithful performance of his duties. The premium for such bond shall be paid by the Commonwealth. Provided, however, that in lieu of specific bonds, the Committee on District Courts may in its discretion procure faithful performance of duty blanket bonds for all magistrates and for the penalty contained in this section, unless in the discretion of the Committee, bonds with a larger penalty should be obtained. Such blanket bonds shall be made payable to the Commonwealth and shall cover all funds handled by a magistrate whether such funds belong to the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof. Provided further, that in those instances where specific bonds for magistrates are in effect, the Committee on District Courts may, whenever it deems it advisable, terminate such specific bonds upon obtaining a blanket bond covering such magistrates with appropriate refunds or credit being made for the unearned premiums on the specific bonds terminated. A copy of any such blanket bond so procured shall be filed with the State Comptroller and with the clerk of the respective circuit courts. The premiums for such blanket bonds shall be paid by the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 19.1-387; 1973, c. 545; 1974, c. 484; 1975, c. 495; 2008, cc. 551, 691.

§ 19.2-40. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1980, c. 758.