Virginia Poverty Law Center

How to Find Out Your Case Status

No matter your situation, court records can help you: 

  • Check if your landlord has started a case to evict you.
  • Understand where you are in the court process.

This page explains how to get and understand information from court records. 

Option 1: Call or visit the court clerk’s office 

You can get information by contacting the clerk’s office of your local General District Court. 

  1. Find the business hours and contact information of the local court clerk’s office on the court website. If there is more than one number, use the one for “civil” cases in General District Court.
  2. Before you go or call, decide what information you want to ask for. 

    Are there any pending eviction cases against you? 

    When is the next hearing in your case? 

    Did a hearing already take place and you want to know the outcome? 

  3. Call or go in person during their business hours. If you have a summons, bring it with you so they can check your case number and find your case faster. They can also look up your case by name. 

    “Hello, my name is _________. I’m looking for information about a possible eviction case against me.” 

  4. If you go in person, you can also ask for a copy of the case file. You may have to pay for the copy, so bring money with you. It may include a copy of the summons, lease termination notice, the Request for Writ of eviction, and other court papers. 

    “May I have a copy of the file for case number _______?” 

Option 2: Check online court records 

Each General District Court (GDC) publishes information about eviction and other cases online. You can check their website to get basic information about current or past eviction cases. 

Navigating the court website 

  1. Go to the Online Case Information System
  2. Click “Accept” when the terms and conditions come up. 
  3. Select your city or county from the “Court” dropdown menu on the left side. The page will refresh and show the name of the court you selected on the gold banner across the top. 
    • Some jurisdictions have more than one court. Select the one with “Civil” in the name. Some jurisdictions have a combined court, like Blacksburg/Christiansburg or Rockingham/Harrisonburg. 
  4. Under “Civil,” select a search option
    • Name Search – look up cases by your or your landlord’s name. 
      • Enter your last then first name.  
      • If nothing comes up, try again and enter only the first few letters of your first or last name. Court records often misspell unusual names. 
    • Case Number Search – if you have a copy of your summons or other court paper, you can search by your case number. 
  5. Click the “Search” button towards the bottom of the page, or press Enter. 

Finding your case 

Once you click “Search,” you should see a list of cases. If you get several results with your name, select the most relevant one: 

  • Case Type should say Unlawful Detainer.
  • Hearing Date should be coming up, or recently passed (within the past 6 months). 
  • Plaintiff should be your landlord, but could be the property manager or company. 

Click the blue linked “Case #” of the case record you want to open. 

Understanding the court record 

The online court record may have some information, or a lot. Here’s what to look for in each section and what it means. 

Case Information Section 

  1. Case Number: The unique number for the court case. This should match what’s on your summons and any other documents you got from the court or the sheriff’s office. 
  2. Filed Date: The date your landlord filed papers to start the case. If the case is about unpaid rent, it should be 6 days or more after they gave you an Unpaid Rent Notice. 
  3. Case Type: Unlawful Detainer, meaning eviction case. If it says something else, like Garnishment or Warrant in Debt, it is not a case that your landlord can use to evict you. 

Hearing Information Section 

  1. Date/Time: The day/time of any past or upcoming hearings in the case. 
  2. Result: If the hearing already happened, it will list one of four results. If it says something else, you will need to call the clerk’s office to get more information. 
    • Continued – there is another hearing coming up in the case. Sometimes, the judge will decide part of a case at one hearing and then decide the rest later. So even if it says “Continued,” check the next section for a decision. 
    • Judgment – the judge decided the case for the landlord. If it says “Default Judgment” that means the tenant was not at the hearing and the landlord won by default. 
    • Dismissed – the judge threw out the case. 
    • Nonsuit – the landlord withdrew the case. 

Judgment Information Section 

  1. Judgment: The judge's final decision. If the landlord won, it will say “Plaintiff.” 
  2. Principal Amount: If money was an issue in the case, this is how much the judge says the tenant owes. Court costs and attorney fees can get added to this amount. 
  3. Possession: If it says “Immediate” or “Possession,” that means the landlord has permission to evict. That doesn’t mean the landlord can kick the tenant out right after the hearing. There’s still a few more steps they need to take. 
  4. Writ of Eviction Issued Date: A date here means the court already asked the sheriff to schedule the eviction. Getting the “Writ” is one of the last steps of the eviction process. 
  5. Date Satisfaction Filed: A date here means the tenant paid everything they owed to the landlord based on the judgment.

Keep in mind

  • Online court records can be incomplete or have mistakes. If something is missing or doesn’t make sense, call the clerk’s office or go in person to get more information. 
  • Always be polite when speaking to a court clerk.  
  • You have a right to information about your case. You can get a copy of your case file if you go in person, but you may need to pay to get it printed. The clerk will tell you how much. 

Take action

Learn what you can do to try to stay in your home and avoid eviction.

Fight my eviction

Sometimes, you can't avoid eviction if your landlord wants you out. But it is always good to learn how the law can protect you and what you can do about your situation.