Essex County's five Constitutional Officers
Essex County's five Constitutional Officers are elected by the voters at large. Each officer serves a four-year term, except for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, who serves an eight-year term.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court serves as the recorder of deeds and probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal court cases. In this latter capacity, the Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes.
The Commissioner of the Revenue is the chief tax assessing officer in the county, responsible for assessing real estate, individual and business tangible personal property, machinery and tools, business license, short-term rental, transient occupancy, public service corporation, and bank franchise taxes. The Commissioner also provides state income tax assistance and administers the tax relief program for the elderly and disabled.
The Commonwealth's Attorney represents the people of Virginia in prosecuting criminal cases. This full-time prosecutor is similar to a "District Attorney" in many other states. The Commonwealth's Attorney typically appoints one or more assistants to handle cases under his or her supervision. All Commonwealth's Attorneys prosecute the most serious crimes, known as felonies, including murder, rape, and robbery. In many jurisdictions, they also prosecute misdemeanors and violations of local ordinances, including traffic offenses.
The Office of Sheriff provides all law enforcement services, including investigating crimes, pursuing offenders and making arrests. The Sheriff also maintains the local jail, manages other local corrections programs and transports criminal defendants to and from corrections' facilities. The Sheriff provides courthouse security, serves legal papers, summons jurors and witnesses, and executes court judgments. The Sheriff is assisted by deputy sheriffs who are appointed by the principal officer.
The Treasurer is the chief financial officer for the county, collecting taxes and local fees, and making payments on behalf of the local government. The Treasurer is responsible for every form of revenue which comes to the locality including taxes, permit fees, and fines. The Treasurer also manages the investment of local funds and maintains records of local finances.