Here’s a quick overview of South Carolina state courts:
South Carolina Supreme Court:
-South Carolina’s highest state court.
-Exclusive jurisdiction over certain appeals (e.g. death penalty).
-Reviews decisions of the Court of Appeals.
-Reviews Post Conviction Relief appeals.
-Has original jurisdiction. (certain actions may commence in the Supreme Court without being brought initially in lower court)
-Governs rules for all other state courts.
-Governs attorney rules.
-Governs Bar admissions and disciplinary matters.
South Carolina Court of Appeals:
-Jurisdiction over appeals that are not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
-Court of Common Pleas: Handles bigger civil cases that aren’t handled in Magistrate’s Court (e.g. if amount of damages are over $7,500). It acts as a trial court for these bigger civil matters. Also, handles asset forfeiture cases, sexually violent predator matters, and Post Conviction Reliefs (PCRs).
-Court of General Sessions: Handles bigger criminal cases that aren’t handled in Magistrate’s or Municipal Court. It acts as a trial court for these bigger criminal matters. Also, it reviews criminal appeals from Magistrate’s Court and Municipal Court.
-Circuit Court has limited appellate jurisdiction over matters from Probate Court, Summary Court (Common Pleas and General Sessions), and some matters from the Administrative Law Judge Division.
-Handles civil cases where the claim doesn’t exceed $7,500, except in landlord/tenant disputes. Conducts trials.
-Handles misdemeanor crimes (e.g. DUI 1st and other crimes, traffic tickets, etc.) that don’t carry a fine over $500 or a sentence over 30 days in jail. Conducts trials.
-Responsible for setting bail, conducting preliminary hearings, and issuing arrest and search warrants.
-Handles misdemeanor crimes (e.g. DUI 1st and other crimes, traffic tickets, and ordinance violations) in municipalities that don’t carry a fine over $500 or a sentence over 30 days in jail.
-Acts as trial court for these smaller crimes committed in municipalities.
-May handle criminal cases that carry a fine of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both, if initiated by the prosecutor and consented to by the defendant.
-Doesn’t handle civil matters.
-Exclusive jurisdiction over Domestic/Family Relations cases (e.g. divorce and child custody, etc.) and juvenile cases.
-Handles administration of estates (e.g. wills, etc.).
-Handles mental/substance abuse commitments.
Master in Equity:
-Handles referred cases from Court of Common Pleas that are non-jury trials.
-Typical cases involve real estate matters such as contracts, partitions, and foreclosures.