Magistrate Court

Magistrate Court Books with Scales of Justice

Ellen L. Karesh, Chief Magistrate

Summary Court Judges (Magistrates) have countywide jurisdiction over traffic, criminal, and civil matters that fall within the guidelines of magistrate level cases.

All Summary courts are under the guidance of South Carolina Court Administration. Each county has a chief magistrate appointed by the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Magistrates issue warrants, set bonds and hear criminal, traffic, and civil cases, as well as preliminary hearings.

Generally, the traffic and criminal jurisdiction of magistrates involve cases with a maximum fine of $500 and/or 30 days in jail. Assessments and court costs may be added to this $500 fine. In some specific cases, the fine or jail time may be more.

Magistrates civil jurisdiction is limited to $7,500 or less and may include such matters as summons and complaint (small claims), landlord/tenant actions, sales of abandoned property and claim and delivery.

Additionally, magistrates may also issue Bench Warrants, Emergency Orders of Protection when Family Court is not in session, and Restraining Orders under the Harassment and Stalking statute.

These services are provided by Magistrates in different areas of the county for the convenience of the citizens. For these services, citizens would see the Magistrate in the area in which the person lives that they are attempting to take to court. For an arrest warrant the public would need to contact their local law enforcement agency.