Because of the Guilford College case, I was wondering what kind of cases the North Carolina Magistrates can handle? I have an answer.
A magistrate is a judicial officer of the District Court who handles certain criminal and civil matters. In criminal cases, a magistrate issues warrants and sets bail. A magistrate may also accept guilty pleas and payments of fines and costs for traffic violations and minor misdemeanors and, in some counties, may conduct trials in certain worthless check cases. In civil cases, the magistrate presides over small claims court.Magistrates in North Carolina can issue warrants in criminal cases, but do not try such cases. Magistrates courts act as small claims courts.
Magistrates courts do probable cause hearings.
You can be arrested in North Carolina if a judge or a magistrate has issued an arrest warrant which directs the police to take you into custody. If an arrest warrant has not been issued, you may be arrested if a police officer has reasonable ground to believe you have committed or are committing a crime. You may also be arrested if you have failed to appear for a criminal court date when you were required to do so.Further elaborated here.
If you are arrested, you will be brought before a magistrate for an Initial Appearance and he or she will determine if probable cause exists for the charge that you are facing. If probable cause is found, you will be advised of a date you must appear in court and the court will set conditions for your release and consider whether or not to release you on bond, and the type of bond to be set.
In North Carolina, Magistrates are judicial officers of the District Court and have jurisdiction in both criminal and civil cases. In many instances, a citizen's first contact with the judicial system comes through the office of the magistrate as magistrates are the front-line protection of peoples' constitutional rights.So once the Magistrate issues a warrant based on probable cause, criminal matters are out of his hands.
In criminal cases, the pretrial process begins with the magistrate, whose primary function in the judicial system of North Carolina is to provide an independent, unbiased review of charges and complaints by law enforcement officers or citizens. The magistrate determines if, and to what extent, further action is warranted when a police officer or a citizen claims that a crime has been committed.
Magisterial duties include issuing various types of processes such as arrest warrants or summonses, search warrants, subpoenas, and civil warrants. Magistrates conduct bond hearings to set bail and conditions of release in instances in which an individual in charged with a criminal offense. They determine whether or not a person should be charged with driving while impaired and hold the initial 30-day drivers license revocation hearing. Magistrates may also accept prepayments for traffic infractions and minor misdemeanors.
Magistrates also have important civil responsibilities -- deciding evictions and cases involving up to $5,000.00 money damages in Small Claims Court, and issuing important processes in cases of alleged domestic violence.
The mission of the Magistrate is to protect and preserve the rights and liberties of all of the people, as guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and North Carolina, by providing a fair, independent and accessible forum the just, timely and economical resolution of their legal affairs.
History and Purpose of the Magistrate
The Office of Magistrate traces its development through centuries of English and American history. In North Carolina many of the duties performed by the Magistrates were once carried out by Justices of the Peace, an office that was phased out between 1968 and 1970. Some Magistrates have trial jurisdiction over minor traffic offenses and simple misdemeanors. They are the foundation and integral part of the Judicial system and are considered Judicial Officials of the State of North Carolina. The principle function of the Magistrate is to provide an independent, unbiased review of complaints brought to the Magistrate by law enforcement officers or the general public.
Cross Posted at Classical Values