Authority of Court

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The council of each municipality may establish, by ordinance, a Municipal Court to hear and determine all cases within its jurisdiction. Such courts are part of the unified judicial system and are commonly known as a summary court.

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. In addition, S.C. Code Ann. § 22-3-545 provides that 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. The term of a municipal judge is set by the council of the municipality, but cannot exceed four years.

All Municipal Judges are required to complete a training program or pass certification or recertification examinations, or both, within one year of taking office. See S.C. Code Ann. § 14-25-15 and Rule 509, SCACR. The examination will be offered three times each year. Members of the South Carolina Bar are exempt from the examination; however, they are required to attend the orientation program.

Each Municipal Judge must pass a recertification examination within eight years after passing the initial certification examination and at least once every eight years thereafter.