Q: What kind of civil cases does Magistrate Court hear?
A: Magistrates hear several types of civil cases, the most common being Summons & Complaint (disputes over money, services, etc. valued at $7,500 or less), Claim & Delivery (procedures to recover personal property), Evictions, Landlord/Tenant disputes, Public Sales on Abandoned Property, and issuing Restraining Orders. Defendants file civil cases in the area where they live.
Q: Can I receive a jury trial in Magistrate Court?
A: Yes, you are entitled to a jury trial if requested in a timely manner and in writing. A jury trial request should include your CURRENT mailing address and phone number and the name of your attorney if one is representing you. Jury Trial Request forms are available at the Magistrate’s office or you may write your own request.
Q: If I accept a check for payment of merchandise or services and the bank returns the check due to insufficient funds, what can I do?
A: You contact the Solicitor´s Worthless Check Unit at 843-292-1586. This agency will completely process the bad check for you.
Q: Does your office provide information pertaining to tax liens, land transactions or general partnership filings?
A: No. Magistrates’ Courts do not handle these matters.
Q: Do I make child support payments at Magistrates’ Courts?
A: No. The Family Court Child Support Office strictly handles Child support payments.
Q: Do I go to Magistrate’s Court for a marriage license?
A: No. Probate Court handles Marriage license applications.
Q: Do you give advice about my case or recommend an attorney?
A: No. Magistrates’ Courts staff cannot give legal advice. The staff can instruct you on the procedures to file a case and explain court procedures to you. The staff cannot recommend an attorney to you. You may contact the local or state Bar Association for a list of attorneys.
Small Claims, Rental, and Property:
Q: When is a case a matter for "Small Claims" and when is it for "Common Pleas"?
A: Magistrate Court handle claims valued at $7,500 or less. Common Pleas handles anything greater than $7,500.
Q: How do I file a case in your court? Is there a charge?
A: When you come to our office, you complete an information sheet that will briefly outline your complaint and any damages you believe you are entitled. Be sure to have the defendant’s physical address or a description of how to locate their premises, supporting documentation such as notices of evictions, contracts, bills of sale, titles, certified receipts and letters if mailed, and any other pertinent information. The court clerk will enter your information into the computer system and produce documents to sign for your particular case. Filing fees are due at the time of filing. Our most common fees are $80 for Summons & Complaint, $65 for the Claim & Delivery cases, $40 for Evictions, $35 for Judicial Sales and Restraining Orders are no cost.
Q: Where do I file my civil case?
A: One files civil cases in the county or state where the defendant lives or operates a business (if the claim is against the business itself). You may file civil suits against Corporations in the county where they own property and operate their regular business.
Q: I have a judgment from Magistrate’s Court. How do I have it executed?
A: Once rendered and the proper time limit has expired, present a Transcript of Judgment to the Clerk of Court office where you may exercise one of two options. You may pay a small filing fee to have the transcript placed on the defendant’s record or you may pay a slightly higher fee to obtain an Execution Order, then presented to the Sheriff’s Office in order to have property seized and sold for the judgment.
Q: How do I go about evicting a renter for non-payment of rent?
A: A landlord must give a minimum of five days written notice to the tenant regarding their failure to pay rent. Once the fifth day has been completed the landlord may file an Order and Rule to Evict at the appropriate Magistrate’s Court, presenting at the time of filing, a copy of the eviction notice. The filing fee for this is $40. The defendant is served upon filing, and is then given 10 days to file a response and request a hearing. If the tenant fails to vacate the premises and does not ask for a hearing, the landlord must pay an additional $10 fee to file the actual Writ of Ejectment. The defendant is served the Writ of Ejectment and must vacate the premises within twenty-four hours. If the defendant fails to vacate the premises, the constable will remove the defendant from the premises.
You may also complete Applications for Evictions for a violation of lease terms and conditions or if the term of tenancy or occupancy has expired.
Q: What is a Claim and Delivery case?
A: A Claim and Delivery case is filed when a person wishes to repossess certain kinds of property. Most commonly, this is the result of a bad debt where the owner used property as collateral such as automobiles, furniture, appliances, etc. In order to proceed, you must present to the court that you are entitled to the property by contract, bill of sale or entitlement. The account must be in default by at least ten days and a certified letter of Right to Cure should have been sent at least twenty days prior to making application to the court for this proceeding and a copy of that letter should be presented upon filing the case. The fee for this proceeding is $55.
Q: What is a Judicial Sale?
A: Towing companies or storage facilities usually file for a Judicial Sale for abandoned property such as a vehicle, boat or trailer. The property must be abandoned for a period of 30 days and an effort must be made to contact the owner to remove the property. The purpose for this type of case is to receive permission from the court to sell the abandoned property and keep the proceeds of the sale to cover storage costs. Contact any one of our offices for more details.
Q: Do I really have to serve jury duty?
A: Unless you are disqualified or exempted from jury duty you must appear on the date and time of your jury summons. The Magistrate must grant all other excuses.
Q: My boss says that he/she needs me to work the week I am called for jury duty; can I be excused?
A: Generally, the court does not excuse someone for this type of work-related issue; however, if scheduled to be out-of-town on business or if you have a unique situation, the Magistrate may excuse you or transfer you to another term. The Magistrate will review this on a case-by-case nature and excuses or transfers are entirely at the discretion of the Magistrate.
Q: What is the difference between serving on a Magistrates’ Courts jury and a Common Pleas or General Sessions jury?
A: Jury panels for Magistrate’s Court are comprised of 6 members; Circuit courts are 12 members. Circuit courts usually require their jurors to return to the court each day for service. Magistrate’s Court selects jurors and notifies them of dates and times to return. If not selected to serve on a case, jurors do not have to return. Jurors in Magistrate’s Court hear criminal misdemeanors, traffic cases, small claims and minor civil disputes.