District Court Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of District Court, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is District Court?

“n. 1) A federal case’s trial court which is either for all or a portion of the state. 2) In some states, a local court.

History and Meaning of District Court

District court is a legal term that has different meanings depending on the jurisdiction it operates under. In the U.S. federal court system, a district court is a trial court, meaning it is the first court where civil and criminal cases are heard. Each state also has its own district courts, which are usually limited to hearing certain types of cases, such as those involving small claims or family law. District courts may be called by different names in different states, such as superior or common pleas courts.

Examples of District Court

  1. John Doe was charged with drug possession and his case went to the district court for trial.
  2. The state's district court handles all landlord-tenant disputes.
  3. The federal district court for Southern California ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the environmental lawsuit against the oil company.
  4. All divorce petitions must be filed in the district court where at least one party resides.
  5. The district court issued a restraining order against the company to prevent them from destroying evidence.

Legal Terms Similar to District Court

  1. Circuit Court - a higher level court that hears appeals from district courts
  2. Superior Court - the highest court in some states that handles cases beyond the jurisdiction of district courts
  3. Magistrate Court - a lower court that only handles minor offenses and may be part of a district court system