The Circuit Courts are Alabama's trial courts of "general jurisdiction" meaning that these courts have the power to decide all cases that can be brought into a court under the Constitution and laws of the State. The circuit courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over felony criminal cases and capital murder cases. Circuit courts also have the authority to hear cases appealed from any courts of limited jurisdiction (i.e., municipal courts, probate courts, and district courts). A case appealed from a municipal, probate, or district court will be tried de novo in circuit Court, meaning the case will be tried again, usually with a jury, just as if it had not previously been heard in lower court. Circuit courts are "courts of record," that is, all proceedings are recorded and transcribed by an official court reporter.
Felony cases are those offenses where the possible punishment involves more than a year in prison. The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes all felonies in Circuit Court. Most all of these cases would be tried before a jury. Such crimes include murder, robbery, sexual assault, theft, drug offenses, and child abuse. The office has a Chief Trial Attorney who is a senior attorney responsible for the assignment of felony cases for prosecution and who assists in training the staff attorneys in trial preparations and skills.