The mission of the 15th Judicial District Magistrate Offices is to provide knowledgeable, independent, neutral and unbiased services to the citizens of the Commonwealth as authorized by the Code of Virginia.

Who Are We?

In many instances, a citizen's first contact with Virginia’s judicial system comes through the Office of the Magistrate. Magistrate duties include issuing various processes such as arrest warrants, summonses, search warrants, emergency protective orders, emergency custody orders, temporary detention orders and certain civil warrants. Magistrate services are utilized by all law enforcement agencies in the State and individual citizens. Magistrates conduct legal research and analysis to apply relevant legal principles to the facts of each case presented while maintaining order and decorum in highly charged and sensitive circumstances. Magistrates also conduct bail hearings in instances in which an individual is arrested to determine whether and under what conditions the arrestee should be released from custody prior to trial. Magistrates provide services on an around-the-clock basis, conducting hearings in person or through the use of videoconferencing systems. Magistrate services must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including nights, weekends and holidays.

The 15th Magistrate District serves the Counties of Caroline, Essex, Hanover, King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Westmoreland, and the City of Fredericksburg. There are 25 full-time Magistrates, of which 9 are assigned to the Stafford Office located at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. The State pays the salaries of the Magistrates and provides all computer equipment and video systems throughout the State. The State also provides all of the paper (about 60-75 cases per year) and the toner for the printers. Each jurisdiction is responsible for providing quarters for the Magistrates, including furniture and other required office equipment, including telephones, facsimile and copy machines, as well as other appliances and supplies necessary to maintain a 24 hour, 7 days a week operation.

During the 2019 calendar year, Magistrate issued over 6,500 criminal processes in Stafford County. They also issued over 700 domestic emergency protective orders and over 200 general protective orders. Issued just under 3,000 commitment orders and processed more than 2,500 recognizances. They issued over 740 search warrants returnable to the Stafford Circuit Court. Additionally, they issued over 325 emergency and temporary custody orders for individuals going through a mental health crisis.

Budget Summary

Notable Changes


  • Restore FY2021 budget reduction