The Criminal Court System

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Circuit Courts Home Page

The Circuit Court is the state's court of general jurisdiction. It has a civil court, the Court of Common Pleas, and a criminal court, the Court of General Sessions. In addition to its general trial jurisdiction, the Circuit Court has limited appellate jurisdiction over appeals from the Probate Court, Magistrate's Court, and Municipal Court, as well as appeals from the Administrative Law Judge Division, which hears matters relating to state administrative and regulatory agencies.

Court of Appeals Home Page

The Court of Appeals was created to hear most types of appeals from the circuit court and the family court. Exceptions are when the appeal falls within any of the seven classes of exclusive jurisdiction listed under the Supreme Court.

Crime Victims' Ombudsman

The mission of the Crime Victim's Ombudsman is to attempt to ensure that all crime victims are served justly, equitably, and fairly by South Carolina's criminal justice organizations. The Crime Victims' Ombudsman provides three main services: refers crime victims to appropriate agencies, provides liaison services, and reviews and attempts to resolve complaints against elements of the criminal and juvenile justice systems or victim assistance programs. The Crime Victims' Ombudsman is an impartial third party that is neither an advocate for victims nor a defender of bureaucracy.

Department of Corrections Home Page

Information for family members of inmates, searchable inmate database, and victim services.

Magistrates Home Page

Magistrates generally have criminal trial jurisdiction over all offenses subject to the penalty of a fine, as set by statute, but generally, not exceeding $500.00 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both. In addition, they are responsible for setting bail, conducting preliminary hearings, and issuing arrest and search warrants. Magistrates have civil jurisdiction when the amount in controversy does not exceed $7,500.

Municipal Courts Home Page

Municipal courts have jurisdiction over cases arising under ordinances of the municipality, and over all offenses which are subject to a fine not exceeding $500.00 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both, and which occur within the municipality. Municipal courts may hear cases transferred from general sessions, the penalty for which does not exceed one year imprisonment or a fine of $5,000, or both, upon petition by the solicitor and agreement by the defendant. The powers and duties of a municipal judge are the same as those of a magistrate, with regard to criminal matters; however, municipal courts have no civil jurisdiction. The term of a municipal judge is set by the council of the municipality, but cannot exceed four years. Approximately 200 municipalities in South Carolina have chosen to create municipal courts.

Public Defender Services in South Carolina

Lawline FAQ: Public Defender services are provided by offices located in most counties in the state to people charged with a crime who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer. Public Defender services are available to people who qualify regardless of whether they are in jail or out of jail.

SC Public Defender Offices

Who is your local Public Defender? Find out here.

South Carolina Court Administration

South Carolina Court Administration was established in 1973 pursuant to the new Judicial Article of the South Carolina Constitution, which provides that the Chief Justice shall appoint an Administrator of the Courts and such assistants as deemed necessary to aid in the administration of the courts of the State. The State Court Administrator serves as the Director of the Office of South Carolina Court Administration. It is the administrative arm of the Chief Justice in his/her capacity as the administrative head of the state judicial system.

Supreme Court Home Page

The Supreme Court is the highest court in South Carolina. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices who are elected to ten year terms by the General Assembly. The terms of the justices are staggered and a justice may be reelected to any number of terms.

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