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.
These terms are used interchangeably to refer to courts which are presided over by a Magistrate. The administrative support staff for the Magistrates' Courts is always referred to as "Summary Courts Administration".
Magistrates hear several types of civil cases. The most familiar is probably the Small Claims case. Small Claims cases are disputes involving $7,500 or less (in money or value of property). Magistrates' Courts also handle Evictions, Pre-Distress Warrants, Claim and Delivery, Landlord/Tenant disputes, Public Sales on Abandoned Property, and issue restraining orders.
Yes, you are legally entitled to a jury trial IF YOU REQUEST ONE. If you wish to make such a request, you should speak to the clerk in charge at the Magistrates' Court where your case is being heard. The judge will arrange for a trial date, and a six-member jury will be selected for this purpose.
Individuals do not file criminal charges. A criminal proceeding is initiated by the government, usually through the Charleston County Solicitor's Office in coordination with a law enforcement agency. Allegations of criminal behavior should be brought to local police, sheriff's department, FBI, or other appropriate law enforcement agency.
The Magistrates' Courts in Charleston County do not handle any of these records. For information regarding any of these items, you should contact the RMC (Registrar of Mesne Conveyance) Office located in the O.T. Wallace County Office Building in downtown Charleston. Their phone number is (843) 958-4800.
No. Child Support payments are accepted at Family Court, located in the Judicial Center behind the Historic Courthouse near the corner of Meeting and Broad streets in downtown Charleston. Payments may be mailed in to the Family Court address. Please remember that a payment stub must accompany all payments. You may also make payments at the Treasurer's Office at any of the county's Service Centers.
Marriage licenses are not issued by Magistrates' Courts. You may obtain a marriage license or receive information pertaining to marriage licenses by contacting the Marriage License Division of the Charleston County Probate Court, located at the Charleston County Judicial Center, 100 Broad Street, Suite 469, in downtown Charleston. The phone number is (843) 958-5183.
No. Voter registration in Charleston County is handled by the office of Voter Registration which may be reached at (843) 744-8683.
Instructions telling you in which court you must appear are on the copy of the ticket you received. If you have lost or misplaced your ticket, you should contact Summary Court Administration for assistance. Summary Court Administration does not have access to Municipal Court records. Therefore, please contact the appropriate Municipal Court if your ticket was written by the police department of a local municipality.
Generally speaking, when the amount or value of property in dispute is less than $7,500 the matter is filed and heard in Small Claims Court.
A Small Claims action is commenced by the filing and service of a summons and complaint, together with the appropriate filing fees. Parties instituting a Small Claims action are required to pay the filing fee at the time the case is filed. The current fee is $80. Complaints may be accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis, meaning that the plaintiff is incapable of paying the filing fee. Summons and complaint forms are available at either of the two Small Claims Courts in Charleston County or online under the forms tab.
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.
Small Claims cases (civil claims under $7,500) are filed with one of the two Small Claims Magistrates' Courts in Charleston County. The Small Claims Court in Charleston is located at 995 Morrison Drive, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. The North Charleston Small Claims Court is located at 4045 Bridgeview Drive, Room B146, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Transcripts of Judgment are filed with the Clerk of Court; executions against property are performed by the County Sheriff. Simply bring in your transcript of judgment and file it with the clerk, along with an execution form that must be filled out by you or your attorney. The clerk will sign and seal the execution. Because cases from a lower court may be appealed for 30 days following the judgment, you must wait 30 days before you can have the judgment executed. After the 30-day waiting period, take your transcript of judgment and execution against property to the County Sheriff's office.
A landlord/tenant dispute is generally filed by the tenant against the landlord, for such issues as failure to maintain the rental property, unlawful eviction, or other such complaint. There is a $40 filing fee for Landlord/tenant disputes.
A landlord may file for eviction in Magistrates' Courts. You should contact the Magistrates' Court nearest you for information regarding jurisdiction; the court staff will help you in determining which Magistrates' Court is the one in which you should file your case. You may also obtain the proper forms from the Court. The entire process is in two parts, and may take from 15 to 20 days to complete. Application for eviction may only be made for one of three reasons:
It is important to note that you may not file for an Eviction until the tenant is more than five days delinquent in paying their rent (that is, on the sixth day following the day the rent was due). In South Carolina, a verbal rental agreement is as valid as a written contract, so it is not necessary to have a written lease agreement. However, in situations where there is a written agreement, the terms of the lease take precedence over the Landlord/Tenant act. In other words, if you have a written agreement that gives your tenant fifteen days in which to pay, you cannot file for eviction until the fifteen days have passed.
A $40 filing fee is attached to the first application, which is the Affidavit and Application of Ejectment and Rule To Show Cause. This paper gives the tenant 10 days from the date of service to settle with the landlord, move, or request a hearing to show cause why s/he should not be evicted. If the tenant does not settle, move, or request the Show Cause hearing at the end of this period, the landlord should make the application for the second paper of the eviction process, which is titled a Writ (or Warrant) Of Ejectment. There is a second $10 filing fee required with this paper. The Court prepares the paperwork and a constable will serve the tenant. This second notice gives the tenant 5 days to settle or vacate. If the tenant fails to respond after 5 days, the landlord may call the court's office to schedule an eviction (put-out) date with the Constable.
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.
A Claim and Delivery suit is filed when you wish to repossess certain kinds of property. For example, a furniture rental company may wish to repossess a sofa when the renter fails to make his/her rental payments. Claim and Delivery suits are also commonly filed by finance companies. There is a $65 filing fee for this type of case. You may obtain the proper forms and pay the filing fee in the Magistrates' Court for the area in which the property is located. If you are unsure about which Magistrates' Court serves your area, call any Magistrates' Court for information.
A Pre-Distress Warrant is generally filed when the plaintiff wishes to seize property belonging to the defendant, in situations where the defendant is the plaintiff's tenant. There is a $40 filing fee for a Pre-Distress Warrant. If a warrant is granted by the judge, any monies collected from the sale of the defendant's property can ONLY be used to cover the amount of rent which is overdue. Pre-Distress warrants are usually (though not always) filed in conjunction with an Eviction.
This type of case is generally filed by towing companies or storage facilities in situations where property such as a vehicle, boat, furniture or other personal property has been abandoned by the person named as the defendant. The property must be abandoned for a period of 30 days before the case can be filed. The purpose of such a case is to receive permission from the court to sell the property and keep the proceeds to cover the storage charges. There is a filing fee of $35 payable upon the filing of the case.
The Court of Common Pleas handles appeals from Small Claims and other Magistrate civil cases. You have 30 days in which to file an appeal on a civil case. Appeals on civil cases are automatically scheduled as non-jury matters, but you can always ask for a jury trial if you wish. Civil appeals are placed on the court's roster and will come before a judge based on the date the appeal was filed. Civil appeals do not take precedence over any other Common Pleas case.
You have ten days from the date of your trial to file your appeal with the Magistrates' Court where your case was heard. The Magistrate must then issue his Return and submit it along with your appeal to the Clerk of Court within thirty days. A Circuit Judge will then review the appeal along with the Magistrates Return and render his/her decision.
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.
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:
Offenses involving the operation of a motor vehicle,
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 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.
Summary Court staff is not permitted to give legal advice, nor can they give you an opinion regarding your legal questions. Persons seeking advice or acting as their own attorneys should consult the most recent edition of South Carolina Rules of Court, or contact the S.C. Senate for Equal Justice at (803) 720-7044.
For information on attorney referrals you may contact the S.C. Lawyers Referral Service at (800) 868-2284. Defendants in criminal proceedings have a right to a lawyer, and are entitled to have counsel appointed at government expense if they are financially unable to obtain adequate representation by private counsel. For more information, contact the Charleston County Public Defender's Office at (843) 958-1850. There is no right to free legal assistance in civil proceedings. Some litigants proceed pro se; that is, they represent themselves before the court. It is common for litigants in Magistrates' Civil and Small Claims cases to act as their own attorneys.
Personnel in the Magistrates' Courts are prohibited from referring you to an attorney.
Yes, you have the right to act as your own attorney. Magistrates' Court office staff cannot give you any advice regarding the law, however they can explain court procedures to you so that you may make a more informed decision.Case Inquiries
Your lawyer, who likely is familiar with local court practice, is your best resource. If you are acting as your own attorney, you may call or visit the Magistrates' Court where your case is filed. Generally, all documents filed in Magistrates' Courts are public records and are available at the court in which they were filed. Many of the Magistrates' Courts case records are available at this Web site through the Interactive Search for Public Access Cases.
You can check on the events for which your case has been scheduled by linking to our Interactive Search for Public Access Cases and inquiring on your case number (if known) or by your name. You may also wish to contact the clerk at the Magistrates' Court at which your case is scheduled to be heard.
The clerks are unable to look up and give out case information to credit bureaus and other companies. While this information is available to the public, companies with an interest in obtaining such information must perform the research themselves. All the information is available via public access computer terminals in the Charleston County Clerk of Court's office or through Public Access Case Inquiry features available at this web site.
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