Chief Judge Billy Chandler
The Magistrate Court office is open Monday through Friday. 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM
Magistrate Courts are the successors to the justice courts and a wide variety of other courts of limited jurisdiction. The Magistrate Court is most accessible to the public. The individual, encouraged by the lack of formality, as the Magistrate Court is not a court of record, may file a criminal complaint or a civil action without the assistance of an attorney if he so wishes.
Law binds the Magistrate Court to do substantial justice. This does not mean every individual entering the Magistrate Court system is going to win their case, but hopefully they will have felt they have been and have had their day in court. If a party is not satisfied with a decision made by a magistrate in a civil matter, the individual may appeal their case to State or Superior Court in what is called a de novo appeal.
The Magistrate Court not only hears civil actions, but also conducts hearings and trials on criminal cases, such as ordinance violations. The Magistrate Court will hear applications, and issue arrest warrants for law enforcement officers and private citizens if probable cause is found to do so. After hearing a law enforcement officer’s sworn affidavit determining probable cause, a magistrate may then issue a search warrant.
A Pre-Warrant Hearing is where the presiding judge wants to hear from other witnesses or from the person that the warrant has been applied for. The person that the warrant has applied for has the same constitutional rights afforded to them by the Miranda Decision. That is, they have the right to remain silent, they have the right to have an attorney present to represent them, and anything they say could be used against them later in a court of law.
All Criminal Warrants are issued thru the Magistrate’s Office. After a warrant is issued, it is sent to the Sheriff’s Department for service. Once a person is arrested and makes bond, they are set a court date for arraignment to come back to State or Superior Court. The Solicitor or District Attorney is responsible for prosecution of all criminal matters.
After a defendant is arrested and if unable to make his/her bond, or in some instances not subject to bond, that person is then brought before a Magistrate Judge to make a determination in the matter of bond and possibly bond conditions. The defendant, unable to make bond, has been afforded the right to this "First Appearance Hearing" by law.
FIRST APPEARANCE HEARINGS
After a warrant less arrest, the arresting officer has the responsibility to bring the arrestee before a Magistrate within 48 hours of the arrest, 72 hours for a person arrested with a warrant. At this time, the person is advised of their rights, their bond, and what they are charged with. If the person cannot afford to hire a lawyer, a form is given to the person for a court appointed lawyer. The person is also advised that while in custody, they have a right to a preliminary hearing.
While a person is in custody or under bond conditions, they have a right to a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is where witnesses for the state is subpoenaed to testify. If there is enough probable cause, the case will be bound over to the Grand Jury for indictment or to the Superior Court for trial. If there is not enough probable cause, the case will be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
Before a person can make bond on a charge involving family violence, the Magistrate must do bond conditions. The Magistrate advising the person they must not make unwanted contact for the purpose of harassment or intimidation. The person must refrain from any physical altercation with the person whom the alleged crime was committed against. If the person violates these conditions, bond may be revoked and they are not entitled to a second bond after such revocation.
DEPOSIT ACCOUNT FRAUD "BAD CHECKS"
Procedures for obtaining a warrant from the Magistrate’s Office for Deposit Account Fraud.
(1) The check has to be for present consideration "Goods or Services."
(2) The check had to have been deposited within 30 days of receipt.
(3) A ten (10) day letter had to have been sent within 90 days of dishonor of check.
(4) A warrant cannot be issued for stop payment on a check.
After a person gets the green card back from the post office, allow 10 full days from when the person signed for the 10 day letter. If the person has not paid after the tenth day, bring the green card along with the check to the Jackson County Magistrate’s Office and a warrant will be issued.
A person can file a claim in the Magistrate Office if the amount of the claim does not exceed $15,000. This can be done with or without an attorney. You have to file the claim in the county that the person lives in. Filing fees differ in every county. However, in Jackson County the filing fee for a small claim is $96.00 for one defendant, $156.00 for two. Once the person is served, they have thirty (30) days to answer to the claim. If they do not answer after forty-five (45) days, a Default Judgment could be entered. If the court finds in your favor, the filing fee is awarded back to you.
A person wishing to get married has to obtain a marriage license from the Probate Court. Once the license is issued, the couple can come to the Magistrate and the Magistrate will perform the ceremony free of charge during regular business hours. However, if the couple wants a ceremony after the regular business hours of the court, arrangements can be made by the Judge performing the ceremony.