Misdemeanor charges are less serious criminal charges in South Carolina. They typically carry smaller penalties than felony charges. However, the same court may hear both types of cases. It often depends on the specific charge as to what court will hear your misdemeanor case. Knowing where you will go to court can help you to prepare better for your appearance.
The South Carolina Judicial Branch explains that there are three types of courts that hear misdemeanor cases. If your charge carries a maximum penalty of less than 30 days and a fine of less than $500, your case will probably go to a magistrate or municipal court. These may be located in the courthouse or in another location as they are smaller courts that do not hear as many cases as the higher courts.
General sessions courts hear most criminal cases, though. If your charge carries a penalty of more than 30 days in jail or more than $500 in fines, this is the court that will hear your case.
Magistrate and municipal courts may have their own procedures and cases may follow the court’s specific time line. With a general sessions court, the time line begins with a bond hearing. This allows you to pay a bond to get out of jail after your arrest. Then, you have roll call, which is the first hearing where the court informs you of the charges against you. This usually happens within 45 days after your arrest.
Then, you have your second appearance, which is when you will enter your plea to the charges. This happens within 120 days of your arrest. If you plead not guilty, the case goes to trial. This information is for education and is not legal advice.