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Magistrates/Summary Courts

Contact Information, Office Hours
Functions, Department Responsibilities
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts,
Court Records, Online payments

Functions

Adjudicate criminal and civil cases

Magistrate Courts handle a variety of issues, including restraining orders, traffic violations and criminal cases with punishments of a fine not exceeding $500 plus assessments or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or both. These courts also handle landlord-tenant problems as well as claim and delivery civil actions and issuance of arrest and search warrants.

Magistrates are appointed to four-year terms by the Governor upon the advice and consent of the Senate.

The Summary Courts Administration provides administrative support to the Centralized Preliminary and Bond Hearing Courts as well as 10 area Magistrate Courts and two Small Claims Courts.

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This Department Does

dot Prepare documentation of criminal and traffic offenses for Magistrate Courts
dot  Process civil claims under $7,500
dot  Inform tenants and landlords about landlord/tenant matters
dot  Process restraining orders for people being stalked or harassed
dot  Prepare arrest warrants
dot  Schedule mediation sessions for disputes between parties
dot  Provide information about how to proceed with civil or criminal matters

This Department Does Not

dot  Provide legal counseling (For attorney information, call the S.C. Lawyers Referral Service at (800) 868-2284 or the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Program (803) 722-0107.
dot  Process claims over $7,500 (See Clerk of Court)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

How do I get my driver's license reinstated?

A:

Pay your outstanding traffic ticket(s) at the appropriate court and then present the reinstatement form and required fee to the Department of Public Safety or Highway Department of the state in which you are a licensed driver.

Q:

I have lost my traffic ticket. How can I find out when and where to go to court?

A:

Contact Summary Courts Administration.

Q:

When can I evict a renter for non-payment of rent?

A:

On the sixth day of the month, if the tenant has not paid rent, the landlord can file for eviction. In South Carolina courts, a month-to-month or verbal agreement is as valid as a written contract.

Q:

How do I collect the $50 my neighbor owes me for cleaning his yard and baby-sitting his children?

A:

In order to collect monies owed to you, you must file a summons and complaint at one of the two Small Claims Courts in Charleston County. This will require a filing fee, and you must provide a current address for the person from whom you wish to collect. The Small Claims Court can handle civil claims of up to $7,500.

Q:

What is an "expungement"?

A:

An "Expungement" is the destruction or obliteration of criminal records relating to an arrest or a conviction. South Carolina law allows for the destruction of arrest and/or conviction information under the following limited circumstances.

EXPUNGEMENTS INIATED IN SUMMARY COURTS:

Pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws § 17-1-40, the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, and fingerprints of any person, who after being charged with a criminal offense and such charge is discharged or proceedings against such person dismissed or is found to be innocent of such charge, shall be destroyed and no evidence of such record pertaining to such charge shall be retained by any municipal, county or State law enforcement agency. This does not apply to cases where there was not an arrest and finger print record created.

DISMISSAL OR NON CONVICTION OF OFFENSE

Pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws § 17-1-40, the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, and fingerprints of any person, who after being charged with a criminal offense and such charge is discharged or proceedings against such person dismissed or is found to be innocent of such charge, shall be destroyed and no evidence of such record pertaining to such charge shall be retained by any municipal, county or State law enforcement agency

SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF PRE-TRIAL INTERVENTION

Pre-trial Intervention is a diversion program for first-time non-violent criminal offenders. Participants are required to perform, among other things, community restitution and make monetary restitution to their victims. South Carolina Code of Laws § 17-22-150 allows offenders, who successfully complete the pretrial intervention program to apply to the court for an order to destroy all official records relating to his arrest. The effect of the order is to restore the person, in the contemplation of the law, to the status he occupied before the arrest. No person, as to whom the order has been entered, may be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of his failure to recite or acknowledge the arrest in response to any inquiry made of him for any purpose.

FRAUDULENT CHECKS

After a first offense conviction of fraudulent intent in drawing check, draft or other written order, the defendant may, after one year from the date of the conviction, apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction. This provision does not apply to any crime classified as a felony (that is, any check valued in excess of Five Thousand Dollars). If the defendant has had no other conviction during the one-year period following the conviction under this section, the court shall issue an order expunging the records. No person has any rights under this section more than one time. See South Carolina Code of Laws § 34-11-90(e).

SIMPLE POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA – First Offense

Pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws § 44-53-450(b), any person who has been sentenced to a "Conditional Discharge" for their first offense of simple possession of marijuana, may, upon completion of the sentencing requirements, apply to the court for an order to expunge from all official records all information relating to his arrest, indictment, trial, finding of guilty, and dismissal and discharge pursuant to this section. No person as to whom such order has been entered shall be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of his failures to recite or acknowledge such arrest, or indictment or information, or trial in response to any inquiry made of him for any purpose.

FIRST OFFENSE CONVICTIONS IN MAGISTRATE’S OR MUNICIPAL COURT

Under South Carolina Code of Laws § 22-5-910, a defendant may apply three years after the date of the conviction for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction of a first offense conviction in a magistrate's court or a municipal court. However, this section does not apply to any of the following offenses:

  1. Offenses involving the operation of a motor vehicle,

  2. Violations of Title 50 (Fish, Game and Watercraft) or the regulations promulgated under it for which points are assessed, suspension provided for, or enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses authorized,

  3. Offenses contained in Chapter 25 of Title 16 (Criminal Domestic Violence) except first offense criminal domestic violence as contained in Section 16-25-20, which may be expunged five years from the date of the conviction.

If the defendant has had no other conviction during the three-year period following the first offense conviction in a magistrate's court or a municipal court, the circuit court may issue an order expunging the records. No person may have his records expunged under this section more than once.

The office of the South Carolina Court Administration has designed a form Order which must be used for all expungements. The Order must be consented to by the Circuit Solicitor and approved and signed by the Circuit Judge.

The Solicitor will consent to every case in which a properly completed proposed Order is presented to him along with all documentation, certification from the Court, and prior criminal record check necessary to confirm that the defendant is lawfully entitled to the expungement.

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Common Terms

Bond Hearing --A hearing when a Magistrate notifies defendants of the charges pending, advises them of their legal rights and sets bail. All law enforcement agencies within Charleston County use this court, which is located at the Mark Clark Business Center - 3870 Leeds Ave, Suite 106, North Charleston, SC 29405.

Claim and Delivery-- Civil action used to initiate a claim when a person feels that his property is being unlawfully held by another party. It must be filed in the jurisdiction where the party in question is located.

Distress Warrant-- An action filed by a landlord in order to seize the property of a tenant. Once the property is seized, it is inventoried and sold at public auction with revenues used as payment of rent monies or arrearage.

Expungement-- The process used to obliterate a criminal charge from an individual's record.

Preliminary Hearing-- A hearing when a Magistrate determines if there is probable cause to bind a case over for trial.

PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention)-- A diversionary program designed for first-time offenders of non-violent crimes. The program requires participants to make restitution to the victim(s), complete community service and participate in court observations and prison tours. Participants may be required to comply with other conditions such as drug testing. Upon completion, the defendant is eligible to have his record expunged.

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History

In 1977, the Summary Courts Department was established to provide administrative support to magistrates in Charleston County. County Council approved a reorganization of the department in February 1981.

Magistrate Courts continued to grow through the years. In 1982, a Small Claims Court was established to improve the litigation of civil cases. In 1985, to simplify the bond hearing process, a Centralized Bond Hearing Court was established. To further increase efficiency, preliminary hearings, which had been held at 15 locations around the County, were centralized. A second Small Claims Court was added in 1992 in the North Area. Both Small Claims Courts have Countywide jurisdiction and handle civil cases involving $7,500 or less.

Currently, the department's director oversees 40 Summary Court clerks who perform judicial administrative functions for the 17 magistrates located throughout Charleston County, including Small Claims, Bond Hearing and Preliminary Hearing Courts.

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Interesting Facts

dot  Since 1991, this department has received achievement awards from the National Association of Counties for its Magistrate Court Automation Program and for the Magistrates' Oversight Committee
dot  Charleston County was the first county in South Carolina to computerize its Magistrate Courts and link with state government computers.
dot  Laws require each Magistrate Court to keep a docket for criminal and civil cases and report all fines imposed. These duties are now performed by Summary Courts Administration.
dot  Traffic and criminal cases heard by Magistrate Courts are limited to fines of up to $500 or imprisonment of up to 30 days or both.
dot  The most common cases tried by Magistrate Criminal Courts include prostitution, assault and battery, violation of check laws, harassment, stalking, criminal domestic violence, receiving stolen goods and obtaining goods under false pretenses.

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Contact Information and Office Hours

Please also see the Magistrate Listing for additional information.

Summary Courts Administration
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, Suite B143
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6600
(843) 202-6604 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Centralized Bond Hearing Court
3831 Leeds Avenue, Suite 200
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 746-9822
(843) 746-9960 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m.- 12:00 a.m. (midnight)

Lunch: 12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m.
Dinner: 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Saturday
9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Sunday
9:00 a.m. (only)

Centralized Preliminary Hearing Court
3831 Leeds Avenue, Suite 100
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 745-2390
(843) 745-2395 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
City of Charleston Magistrate Court
995 Morrison Drive
Post Office Box 941
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 724-6719
(843) 724-6785 (Fax)

Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

 

East Cooper Magistrate Court
1189 Sweetgrass Basket Pkwy, Suite 300
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 856-1205
(843) 856-1188 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
James Island Magistrate Court
615 Riverland Drive
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-1140
(843) 406-2753 (Fax)
Monday-Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
McClellanville Magistrate Court
10009 Highway 17 North
McClellanville, SC 29458
(843) 887-3334
(843) 887-3901 (Fax)
Monday and Thursday
9 a.m.- 12:00 noon
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
North Area Magistrate Court 1
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, 1st Floor, Ste B125
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6610
(843) 202-6620 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
North Area Magistrate Court 2
2145 Melbourne Ave., Suite 100
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 745-2215
(843) 745-2334 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
North Area Magistrate Court 3
7272 Cross County Road
North Charleston, SC 29418
(843) 767-2743
(843) 760-6887 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.- 12:00 noon
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Ravenel/Adams Run Area Magistrate Court
5962 Highway 165, Suite 200
Ravenel, SC 29470
(843) 889-8332
(843) 760-6887 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Small Claims Court
City of Charleston
995 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 724-6720
(843) 724-6785 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Small Claims Court, North Area
Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building
4045 Bridge View Drive, 1st Floor, Ste B146
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6650
(843) 202-6652 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wadmalaw/Johns Island Magistrate Court
1527 Main Road
Suite 100
Johns Island, SC 29455
(843) 559-1218
(843) 559-2378 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
West Ashley Area Magistrate Court
1720 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, Unit 11
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 766-6531
(843) 571-4751 (Fax)
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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