W. F. Pope, Chief Magistrate
Magistrates: P. Swearingen; W. Robinson; J. Reed; C.A. Tolen; R. Price
Deanna Hixon, Court Administrator
Fairfield County Central Traffic Court
115-B South Congress Street
Closed for lunch 12:30PM-1:30PM
The Fairfield County Magistrate Court strives to treat all persons having business in the court equally and fairly, regardless of race, creed, or stature. The court administers justice effectively, equally and mercifully, while following and upholding the laws of the United States of America, the State of South Carolina, and the ordinances of Fairfield County.
OFFICE LOCATION AND HOURS
The Magistrate office is located at 115-B South Congress Street in Winnsboro, SC. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am until 5:00pm. The office is closed for lunch from 12:30 pm until 1:30 pm.
Bond Court hours are daily at 8:00am and 5:00pm at the Fairfield County Detention Center.
Please be advised the magistrate cannot discuss specific details about your case or give you advice. The court staff will assist you in preparing your court forms.
Magistrates mainly handle criminal and traffic offenses with a maximum fine of $500 or 30 days in jail. (state assessments will be added to fine imposed). You must appear in court at the specified date and time on your ticket or bond paper. All times are in military time. If you decide to mail in your bond rather than appearing in court, mail a money order, cashier’s check or bank certified check payable to Fairfield County Traffic Court to 115-B S. Congress Street, Winnsboro, SC 29180. Do not mail cash or personal check. Be sure to enclose a copy of the summons or the summons number on the money order. The payment must be received in the court on or before the scheduled court time. The posting of bond does not affect your right to appear in court and receive a fair trial before the judge or to request a jury trial, provided the jury trial request is made in writing to the court before your court appearance date. If you fail to post bond or personally appear in court on the assigned court date, your home state motor vehicle division will be notified and your driver’s license may be subject to suspension until the matter is cleared with the trial court. Failure to appear in court or post bond in criminal cases will result in a bench warrant being issued for you arrest.
CIVIL COURT (SMALL CLAIMS)
Magistrate’s civil jurisdiction is limited to amounts of $7500.00 or less and may included such matters as, disputes over money owed, defaulted credit payments, breach of contracts, abandoned property sales, and landlord-tenant matters. Civil complaints are filed in the county where the defendant (person being sued) lives or the company does business or has an office. The complaint must explain in detail the reason(s) for the action being filed. A filing fee is required. When the complaint is filed, a summons is issued for the defendant to answer the complaint within thirty (30) days. If the complaint is not answered within the 30 days, the plaintiff will be awarded a judgment by default. The defendant may answer the complaint and request a trial by the judge or a jury trial. Each party will be summoned to court to present its position on the complaint. (If witnesses needed please notify the court to subpoena). If neither party appears the case is dismissed.
Magistrate Court jury trials are conducted at scheduled times. Jurors are selected randomly by computer from the voter registration list of the county. All jurors are to report to the magistrate office located at 115-B S. Congress Street in Winnsboro, unless they have been excused by the presiding judge. If you think you may qualify for exemption, please call the magistrate office for further instructions, some valid exemptions/excuses are: age, child care, physical/mental conditions, recent jury duty, some occupations may delay your service to another term. All jurors must complete the information form and return it to magistrate office. You will be paid $10.00 for each day you are required to appear. Dress appropriately for the courtroom. Inappropriate dress would include hats, tank tops, shorts, or Tee shirts. Do not bring telephones, pagers, or any noise making devices or electronics into the courtroom. Absolutely no weapons are allowed in the building. You may be subject to search or electronic scanning devices.
Magistrates issue arrest warrants for criminal offenses that occur in Fairfield County. If you are seeking an arrest warrant, you must have a sheriff department incident report. The magistrates do not receive copies of incident reports from the investigating officers. The party seeking a warrant must go to the Sheriff’s Department, get a copy of the incident report and bring it to the magistrate for review before issuance of a warrant.
Magistrates conduct Preliminary Hearings in matters of the General Sessions Court jurisdiction. A Preliminary Hearing is a hearing to determine if the State can show there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime with which he is charged. A defendant will receive from the Bond Court Judge a form to request the hearing. The defendant or his attorney must return the form to the court listed on the form within ten (10) days to qualify for the hearing. The Preliminary Hearing is an administrative inquiry and not an adversary hearing.
RESTRAINING ORDERS (Harrassment/Stalking)
Magistrates issue restraining orders in matters concerning harassment or stalking. Restraining Orders are civil in nature and require the filing of a complaint listing verified reasons a restraining order is needed. After the complaint is filed, the magistrate will issue a summons, requiring all parties and their witness to be present for a hearing to determine whether to issue the restraining order. There is no filing fee for a restraining order; however, the non-prevailing party must pay the court cost.