West Columbia Municipal Court – West Columbia, SC

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with limited area of authority over criminal charges and civil disputes inside its location. These courts can be located at the county or city level.

West Columbia Municipal Court INformation

Court: West Columbia Municipal Court
Address: “200 North 12th Street, PO Box 4044, West Columbia, SC 29171”
Phone: 803-791-1880

City: West Columbia
County: Lexington
State: South Carolina

What is the role of the West Columbia Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they work with minor crimes, civil matters, and traffic violations. Courthouses like West Columbia Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

In other situations, the role of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, injury cases, more serious criminal charges, or breaches of contract.

County courthouses have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that won’t exceed the amount of $15k, while the circuits courts handle felony cases and larger civil cases.

TYPES OF CASES adjudicated IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in West Columbia, South Carolina

Municipal courts are the entry level of courts in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some locales share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better assist their population or to save money on administrative costs. The cases that will be heard by a municipal court can change based on on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, small criminal charges and code violations.

There is no set definition for what establishes a misdemeanor charge versus a felony crime, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor crimes and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

how are cases managed in the municipal court in West Columbia?

Municipal courts are the entry level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic tickets, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Cases are managed by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council board to help for a specific time.

Magistrates administer hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against individuals by police officers
  • Distribute search warrants to police officers in order to secure evidence from crime locations
  • start preliminary examinations to establish if there is enough evidence to mount a charge

The common process of a Municipal Court Case

The common process of a municipal courthouse case can be tricky. The following is an overview of the most common steps involved in a regular municipal court matter.

First Step: Issuance of Summons

A summons is issued when an individual has been charged with violating a town rule or state law. The individual who has received the court summons will need to show up at their assigned time and location, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to respond for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t show up, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1,000.00 or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in West Columbia, SC

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed attorney. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be accurate for the West Columbia Municipal Court. 

A violation is an offense that has a penalty of $500 or below, while a misdemeanor crime can have penalties up to $1k or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courts vary depending on the severity of an charges. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you will be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

West Columbia Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal government could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of matter they have in front of the court, where it’s at in the process, and what kind of of information is needed by law to be available.

Questions ABOUT the West Columbia Municipal Court

What is municipal court in West Columbia, South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the municipal court is a lower level with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a city or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small location and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty offenses and misdemeanors.

What does the municipal court handle in West Columbia, South Carolina?

Depending on the area of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. Serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the West Columbia Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in South Carolina?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until they retire. Judges are commonly chosen by precincts with each precinct’s results weighted based on the number of people. Municipal judges are often not attorneys but have some legal education and must finish multiple hours of continuing material every year to maintain their licenses.