A Brief Guide to the Alabama Court Structure

If you are facing a situation where you need to go to court, it is a good idea to at least have a basic understanding of how the Alabama court system is structured. This post will provide a basic overview of the Alabama courts, and what each of them do.

Alabama Supreme Court

This is the highest court in the state and is responsible for reviewing cases heard by the lower courts. This is also where cases where the amount that is contested is greater than $50,000 (unless a lower court has jurisdiction for a specific reason). The vast majority of people will never have their case reach the Alabama Supreme Court.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

All civil matters will be heard in this court, and this is also where judges hear cases that were appealed from lower courts or administrative agencies. This is where family courts exist, which handle divorce, adoption, child custody, and other common cases. Any case where there is a civil appeal that has a contested amount of less than $50,000 will also be heard in this court.

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Anyone who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in a lower court, and is appealing their conviction, will have their case heard in this court. Criminal appeals courts like this will review cases where the defendant has requested an appeal and determine if there is sufficient reason to hear the case, which means not all requests for appeal are honored.

Alabama Circuit Courts

The 41 circuit courts located throughout Alabama hear the majority of cases, including all felony prosecutions and proceedings where the disputed amount, or the value of the damages in question, are greater than $10,000.

Municipal Court

Municipal courts, also referred to as city courts, hear cases that involve criminal misdemeanors as well as municipal violations. The cases heard are typically divided up into different divisions that handle different types of cases.

Probate Court

Probate courts hear cases that deal primarily with cases related to estates, real property, wills, adoption, and things of this nature. People most commonly go through the probate courts after a loved one has passed away, and their will has to go through this type of court so the property and assets can be dispersed.

Juvenile Court

This is where all cases where the party involved is still a child (below the age of 18). One of the most significant differences between this type of court and the others is that the proceedings are confidential in most situations.

Small Claims Court

Any cases that involves a conflict over something valued at under $3000 will go through the small claims courts.

District Court

District courts handle criminal misdemeanors as well as felony prosecutions. In addition, a district court will handle a dispute where the value of the money or property in question is between $3000 and $10,000.

Get the Help You Need

If you ever have to work through the court system, it can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. Having an experienced attorney who is familiar with the courts can be an invaluable resource. Contact John M. Totten to get the help you need when facing any legal case related to family law, personal injury, or criminal law.

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Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.