Fannin County Magistrate Court
400 West Main Street; Suite 202
Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513
Chief Judge: Brian D. Jones
Assistant Judge: April D. Ledford
Chief Clerk: Danette Davis
Deputy Clerk: Sara Carder
Deputy Clerk: Jessica George
Online filing: www.efilegeorgia.com
The Magistrate Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. The jurisdictions and procedures are uniform throughout the State of Georgia. The monetary jurisdiction in Civil cases is $15,000 or less, but does not include dispossessory actions which involve landlord-tenant cases. Dispossessory actions have unlimited monetary jurisdiction.
The Magistrate court has criminal and civil jurisdictions.
The criminal jurisdiction responsibilities include:
- Issuing arrest and search warrants
- Conducting first appearance hearings
- Setting bonds
- Preliminary or committal hearings
- Warrant application hearings
- Conducting trials for county ordinance violations
- Misdemeanor deposit account fraud [O.C.G.A. 16-9-20]
- Criminal trespass [O.C.G.A. 16-7-21]
- Furnishing alcoholic beverages to a person less than 21 years of age [O.C.G.A. 3-3-23]
- Purchase or possession of alcoholic beverages by a person less than 21 years of age [O.C.G.A. 3-3-23]
- Shoplifting, $300 or less [O.C.G.A. 16-8-14]
- Possession of marijuana less than one ounce [O.C.G.A. 16-13-2(b)
The civil jurisdictions responsibilities include:
- Trial and arbitration of civil claims for less than $15,000
- Abandoned motor vehicles
- Dispossessory and distress proceedings
- Issuance of subpoenas
- Issuance of summons
- Mechanics liens
- Punishment of contempt by fines not exceeding $200 or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 days
- Writ of Possessions
Many Magistrate Court litigants represent themselves (Pro se) but the use of an attorney is permissible. Effective July 1, 2000, pursuant to O.C.G.A. 17-4-40, the Magistrate Court holds an increasing number of pre-issuance hearings on warrant applications. The purpose of these hearings is to allow all parties involved in a dispute to present evidence before a judge so that he can determine if there is probable cause for a warrant to be issued. The Magistrate Court cannot make a determination of guilt or innocence; it can only determine if there is sufficient probable cause for a case to go forward. Magistrate Court can adjudicate guilt or innocence in misdemeanor deposit account fraud ($1500 or less), county ordinance violations, furnishing alcoholic beverages to a person less than 21 years of age, purchase or possession of alcoholic beverages by person less than 21 years of age, criminal trespass, shoplifting, and possession of marijuana less than one ounce. All felony cases are held in Superior Court.
The Magistrate Judge holds first appearance hearings daily for accused persons who are being held in jail. An accused person that is in jail must be brought before a judge for his first appearance hearing within 48 hours if he/she was arrested without a warrant and 72 hours if he/she was arrested with a warrant. The judge is required to advise the accused of his charges and inform hi/her of their constitutional rights to remain silent, to be represented by an attorney and the right for a preliminary hearing. Preliminary or committal hearings are held to determine probable cause for the accused that have been unable to post bond and are being held in jail. The Magistrate Court will schedule a bond hearing, upon request, so that the State and the accused may present evidence and/or reasons why bond should or should not be changed. Once an accused is indicted or an accusation has been drawn up, he/she loses their rights to a preliminary/committal hearing.
It is against the law for anyone in Magistrate Court to provide legal advice. If needed, one should consult an attorney.