Frequently Asked Questions of the CA

What is the main job of a Commonwealth’s Attorney?

The primary function of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney is to prosecute all criminal and serious traffic offenses which occur within the City of Fredericksburg, including those on the University of Mary Washington campus. In the courts, the Commonwealth’s Attorney and Deputy and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys represent the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Why did I get a subpoena?

The court needs to gather all information relevant to the case in order make a just determination. People that receive subpoenas have been determined to have such information. It is up to the court, not the subpoenaed witnesses, to determine the relevance and importance of information related to the case. 

Why am I a witness if I didn’t see the crime happen?

Witnesses are not limited to people that saw the crime committed.  Witnesses may be called because they know something about a piece of evidence or they possess information that contradicts another witness’ testimony. The court can only make an appropriate finding if the court has all the available information. 

What if my employer won’t let me off to come to court? What if my child is subpoenaed as a witness and has to miss school?

When a person is subpoenaed to court, an employer cannot prevent court attendance. If necessary, the Victim Witness Assistance Program can contact employers to verify the subpoena, and/or provide a note confirming the court appearance. The clerk of the court can provide a note confirming that a child was required to appear in court and permitting that school absence to be excused.

Do I have to come to court?

A subpoena or a summons is an order to come to court on a certain day at a certain time. Failure to appear can result in criminal charges. 

What if I want to “drop the charges”?

When an issue is being addressed by the criminal court, a case is brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia against the individual on trial. The Commonwealth’s Attorney is representing society/the Commonwealth being injured by an act of crime. Victims of criminal offenses have certain rights, but they do not have the right to stop the criminal proceeding. For more information on the rights of crime victims, please see the information about the Victim Witness Assistance Program.  

I am a victim of a crime- will you help me?

The Commonwealth’s Attorney and staff work diligently to hold criminals accountable for their actions. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office also houses a Victim Witness Assistance Program that can provide many additional services to victims and witnesses of crimes.

How does the City Attorney's Office differ from the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office?

The City Attorney's Office provides counsel and advice in all civil matters to all boards, commissions, departments, agencies, offices and officials of the general City government; drafts and prepares City ordinances and legislative proposals; defends and brings actions in which the City or any of its boards, commissions, etc., shall be a party; and in other matters, advises and represents the general City government. 

The Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office prosecutes all criminal and serious traffic cases occurring within the City of Fredericksburg. They represent the Commonwealth in criminal matters that threaten public safety. 

What if the defense attorney contacts me?

You are under no obligation to speak with the attorney for the defense. Remember that anything you say may be used in court. Be sure to always request proper identification and an explanation of the purpose of any conversation related to the case. 

Who will help me at court?

You may bring friends or relatives with you to court, and they can probably sit in the courtroom while you testify unless they are also witnesses. A representative from the Victim/Witness Program may also be with you to support you and address any questions or concerns you have. 

What should I do if someone threatens me?

If you receive any threats concerning your involvement in a case, you should immediately contact the police department. In an emergency situation, call 911. Any person who threatens or harasses you about a pending case is obstructing justice and committing a crime. 

I know about a crime that has been committed. Should I report the crime directly to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office?

To report a crime in progress, call 911. To report a crime that has happened in the past, call the law enforcement agency where the crime occurred. Local law enforcement is responsible for investigating crime and issuing any arrest warrants when evidence suggests that a crime has been committed.

What if I have concerns about testifying? 

The Victim Witness Assistance Program can address any questions or concerns about testifying and/or court proceedings. 

Can the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office help me with my divorce or child custody case?

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office cannot assist in divorce cases and child custody cases, as these are civil in nature. The Commonwealth Attorney only has the power to prosecute criminal cases that arise in the City of Fredericksburg. 

What if I need something you won’t help me with? 

Refer to our Resources for Crime Victims page if you need additional help. 

Elizabeth K. Humphries

Commonwealth’s Attorney

PO Box 886

Fredericksburg, VA 22404

Ph: 540-372-1040

Fx: 540-372-1181


8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Monday - Friday

After Hours Circuit Court Informational Line

Ph: 540-310-0675 after 5 p.m. 

Victim Witness Assistance Program 

Ph: 540-993-1660 

Police Department (non-emergency)


General District Court Case Information

Circuit Court Case Information

Fredericksburg Police Department

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office

Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office 

Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney

Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney