Upson County Magistrate Court Civil & Criminal Guidelines
About Magistrate Court
The Magistrate Courts of Georgia were established in 1983 when the current Constitution was ratified. The Constitution mandated the Magistrate Court to replace the Justice Courts and a variety of small claims courts or limited jurisdiction courts that were known by a variety of different names. Each county within the State of Georgia has a Magistrate Court. Each court has a Chief Magistrate that is elected by the citizens of the county. Many Magistrate Courts have at least one, if not more, judges or Magistrates who serves in the same judicial capacity and handles related casework.
The Civil Jurisdiction
The Magistrate Court's Civil jurisdiction is now $15,000.00. This became effective July 1, 1999 by legislation through the General Assembly. On Landlord/Tenant and rental disputes there is no monetary limit, this court has an exclusive right over these cases.
Types of Civil Actions filed in Magistrate Court
- Civil Suits/ Statement of Claim
- Trover Actions
- Foreclosure on Personal Property
- Dispossessory Actions
- Writ of Possession
- Levy and Public Sale
- Abandoned Motor Vehicles
The Criminal Aspect
The Magistrate Court Judges have a general authority to issue arrest warrants and do issue the majority of the warrants issued for the City of Thomaston and Upson County.
Criminal Arrest Warrant: Once probable cause has been established by a law enforcement officer, they will bring the affidavit to the Magistrate Court to be sworn and issued by the Judge. After the arrest, a first appearance will be held before the appropriate Magistrate Judge within 48-72 hours. A bond is set and the arrested party is allowed to post bond and return to Superior Court when the case is called, or before bonding they may have their attorney to request a preliminary hearing before the Magistrate Judge if they feel they are not guilty.
Search Warrants: Search warrants are issued based upon the sworn affidavit of the officer; the affidavit must show facts establishing probable cause to believe that a crime is being or has been committed and must particularly describe the place or person, or both, to be searched and the things to be seized.
Bad Checks: Deposit Account Fraud. Bad Check Citations or Criminal Warrants are issued after a merchant sends a 10-day letter notifying the party of the returned check. The check can be picked up at the business to avoid a citation/warrant from being issued on NSF checks or CLOSED ACCOUNT.
County Ordinance Violations: Each Magistrate Court and each Magistrate shall have jurisdiction and power over the following matters which are misdemeanors issued on a citation: Disorderly Conduct, Public Drunk, Criminal Trespass, Marijuana less than 1oz., Shoplifting, Possession of Alcohol Under the Age of 21, Furnishing Alcohol Under the Age of 21, and County Code Violations.