Delaware’s Court of Common Pleas has misdemeanor jurisdiction over criminal matters for the state and motor vehicle offenses, including misdemeanor drug offenses for anyone older than 18. All defendants have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers in the Court of Common Pleas. The Court of Common Pleas also has jurisdiction over civil matters where the amount is $50,000 or less. They work closely with the Superior Court dividing these types of cases up. Civil cases heard in Court of Common Pleas are handled by a judge and are not subject to a jury. This court handles a lot of name change cases along with habitual offender hearings for people who have lost their driver’s license.
Both Justice of the Peace and Alderman’s Courts appeal their cases to the Delaware Court of Common Pleas. This court also hears appeals from the administrative division of the Division of Motor Vehicles for the state. Almost 97% of the cases in the Court of Common Pleas come from the Justice of the Peace Courts the other 3% come from the state Attorney General’s office.
Nine judges sit on the bench at the Court of Common Pleas. Five of them are in New Castle County, two are in Kent County, and two more are in Sussex County. The Governor appoints each judge to his or her position, and the Senate confirms their nomination. They serve 12-year terms. Before being appointed, each must have five years of law experience and be a resident of the state. Delaware does not allow a majority of judges to be members of the same political party.
For the last year tallied, the Delaware Court of Common Pleas saw 105,796 cases. Of that total, 13,788 were for civil filings, and 92,008 were for criminal cases.