Magistrate & Municipal Court Offenses
Magistrates and municipal courts have jurisdiction over all offenses that are punishable by 30 days or less, with some exceptions. All such offenses that occur within city limits are heard by the municipal court for that city or town. If an offense occurs outside of city limits, within unincorporated areas of the county, the case will be heard by the magistrate court for the particular area where the alleged offense occurred. There are over 200 municipal courts in the state of South Carolina. In Horry County alone, there are municipal courts in Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Conway, Briarcliffe Acres, Loris, Aynor, and Atlantic Beach, and there are nine magistrates in the county.
To complicate this further, the magistrate courts in Horry County have consolidated certain types of cases, into the Horry County Central Traffic Court, Criminal Domestic Violence Court, Preliminary Hearing Court, Centralized Magistrate Bond Court, and two Central Jury Courts. Many other counties in South Carolina have similar systems in place as well.
If you are charged with a traffic offense or other misdemeanor in the magistrate court or the municipal court, including DUI (driving under the influence) or CDV (criminal domestic violence), there will be a court date written on your ticket. If you do not appear on this date, you may be found guilty in your absence. Depending on what county you are arrested in, you may be required to appear in the lower court on the court date on your ticket even if there are additional, more serious, charges that will be in General Sessions.
Contact us our Myrtle Beach office before the court date which is on your tickets, and we will do a written request for a jury trial immediately. Once a jury trial has been requested, your case will be placed on the jury trial roster and in most cases you will not be required to appear on the date which is on your ticket (always check with your lawyer regarding when you must appear in court). Your case will be set for trial at a later date, following a roster meeting, and in the meantime we will obtain discovery - the evidence in your case - investigate your case, and prepare your case for trial. If you live out of state and our office is handling your case, you may not have to return to South Carolina except on your trial date. Call our office at 843-444-6122 or contact us online today.