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The Guide to South Carolina Court Records


The South Carolina trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, Family Courts, Probate Courts, Magistrates Courts, and Municipal Courts.
 
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases and generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Family Courts, Probate Courts, Magistrates Courts, and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

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Please select a South Carolina county below to view directory of all courts with links to court record resources for each court. Find South Carolina court pages by Town or Zip Code. Select a court record or online resource category below to view all resources at both the statewide and county level. Go to the court records pages for another state.
 


 
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South Carolina Circuit Courts

Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but typically only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Circuit Courts are divided into two main divisions. The Court of Common Pleas division handles civil cases, and the Court of General Sessions division handles criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by the General Sessions division include felonies and some misdemeanors. Some Circuit Courts may have a subdivision of the General Sessions division for prosecution of first offense charges related to domestic violence.

Civil cases heard by Circuit Courts include most general civil claims for more than $7500. Circuit Courts share civil jurisdiction with Magistrates Courts over certain types of general civil claims for less than $7500, including contract claims, damages to real or personal property, penalties or fines or forfeitures, attachment of property for debts. Circuit Courts also share jurisdiction with Magistrates Courts for certain types of cases without financial limits on claims, including some landlord-tenant cases, some bonds, confessions of judgment, interpleader and cases involving rented personal property. Civil cases with counterclaims beyond the jurisdictional limits of a Magistrates Court will be transferred to Circuit Court.

Some Circuit Courts have a Business Court division that handles certain complex business or commercial cases.

Circuit Courts also handle some domestic relations cases, including annulments, divorce, and related child custody, child support and alimony cases. A Circuit Court may transfer domestic relations cases to Family Court.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over several types of cases, including cases that involve a power of attorney and cases requesting the approval of settlements in wrongful death cases or the approval of settlements of claims for less than $10,000 in favor or against a minor or incapacitated person. Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to approve settlements of claims for more than $10,000 in favor or against a minor or incapacitated person.

Circuit Courts also have jurisdiction over formal proceedings for the probate of wills and appointment of personal representatives, the construction of wills, disputes over title to real estate, trusts, jury trials when the amount in dispute is more than $5,000, and cases related to the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. If part of a probate case is removed to Circuit Court, the Probate Court will generally continue to have jurisdiction over the remaining parts of the case.

South Carolina Family Courts

Family Courts have jurisdiction over most domestic relations cases, most juvenile cases, some mental health cases and most domestic violence abuse protection cases.

Cases typically handled by a Family Court include divorce, legal separation, annulment, child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, division of marital property, domestic abuse protection orders, foster care, termination of parental rights, guardianship of a minor, adoption and name changes.

Family Courts handle most cases involving child custody. Circuit Courts share jurisdiction over annulments and divorce cases, including related matters such as child custody, child support and alimony. Circuit Courts may transfer cases to Family Courts.

Family Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over child neglect, child abandonment, children beyond the control of their parent or custodian and most cases involving juveniles alleged to have violated a state or local law or municipal ordinance. Juvenile delinquency cases handled by a Family Court include most violations of state law or municipal ordinances, although juvenile traffic, fish and game, and watercraft violations may be handled by Magistrates Courts or Municipal Courts. Some criminal cases will be transferred to Circuit Court for prosecution of a juvenile as an adult.

Family Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over certain types of cases, including paternity, common-law marriage and some marital agreements, to the extent that these cases are related to pending Probate Court cases involving estates, trusts, guardianships, or conservatorships.

Family Courts have jurisdiction over the treatment and commitment of children with serious mental health issues, but this jurisdiction is limited to the extent it conflicts with Probate Court jurisdiction over mental health cases.

Magistrates have jurisdiction over requests for domestic abuse protection orders if the Family Court is closed or not in session. In some counties, Magistrates Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal domestic violence cases. In the City of Orangeburg, the Municipal Court has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal domestic violence cases.

South Carolina Probate Courts

Probate Courts generally handle probate matters such as wills, estates and trusts. Probate Courts also handle guardianships, conservatorships and involuntary commitments. Probate Courts share some jurisdiction over certain types of cases with Circuit Courts and Family Courts.

Circuit Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over several types of cases, including cases that involve a power of attorney and cases requesting approval of settlements in wrongful death cases or the approval of settlements of claims for less than $10,000 in favor or against a minor or incapacitated person. Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to approve settlements of claims for more than $10,000 in favor or against a minor or incapacitated person.

In some circumstances, a Circuit Court will exercise jurisdiction over certain types of probate cases, including formal proceedings for the probate of wills and appointment of personal representatives, the construction of wills, disputes over title to real estate, trusts, jury trials when the amount in dispute is more than $5,000 and cases related to the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. If part of a probate case is removed to Circuit Court, the Probate Court will generally continue to have jurisdiction over the remaining parts of the case.

Family Courts share jurisdiction with Probate Courts over certain types of cases, including paternity, common-law marriage and some marital agreements, to the extent that these cases are related to pending Probate Court cases involving estates, trusts, guardianships, or conservatorships.

Family Courts have jurisdiction over the treatment and commitment of children with serious mental health issues, but this jurisdiction is limited to the extent it conflicts with Probate Court jurisdiction over mental health cases.

South Carolina Magistrates Courts

Magistrates Courts have jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases. Magistrates Courts may be referred to as "Summary Courts."

Criminal cases heard by Magistrates Courts include preliminary hearings for most criminal cases and criminal cases punishable by limited fines or short terms of incarceration. Cases typically heard by Magistrates Courts include fraudulent checks, shoplifting, domestic violence, some cases involving assault or battery or breach of the peace, larceny involving less than $1000, receiving stolen goods, false pretenses, and traffic and fish and game law violations. Some Magistrates Courts will handle municipal ordinance violations with the agreement of a municipality.

Magistrates Courts have exclusive criminal jurisdiction when the punishment does not exceed a fine of $100 or imprisonment for 30 days. Magistrates Court share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts when the punishment exceeds those limits. In addition, Magistrates Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all first-offense criminal domestic violence cases, except within the City of Orangeburg. If a case is transferred from Circuit Court to Municipal Court by agreement of the State and the defendant, fines up to $5,500 or imprisonment up to one year may be imposed.

Civil cases heard by Magistrates Courts include most general civil claims for less than $7500, including contract claims, damages to real or personal property, penalties or fines or forfeitures, attachment of property for debts. Magistrates Courts also handle certain types of claims without financial limits, including some landlord-tenant cases, some bonds, confessions of judgment, interpleader and cases involving rented personal property.

Magistrates Courts do not have jurisdiction over most civil cases when the State is a party and most cases that involve disputes over title to real estate. Civil cases with counterclaims beyond the jurisdictional limits for Magistrates Court are transferred to Circuit Court.

Magistrates Courts share jurisdiction with Family Courts over some cases involving juvenile violations of traffic, fish and game, and watercraft ordinances. Magistrates Courts have jurisdiction over requests for domestic abuse protection orders if the Family Court is closed or not in session.

In some counties with multiple Magistrates Courts, a centralized court hears all criminal domestic violence cases, except within the City of Orangeburg.

South Carolina Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts are created by municipal councils and have limited jurisdiction over certain types of criminal offenses.

Some cities and towns have voted for municipal ordinances to be heard in Magistrates Courts or through a contract with a County Magistrate. Both Municipal Courts and Magistrates Courts are referred to as "Summary Courts," but Municipal Courts handle fewer types of cases than Magistrates Courts.

Criminal cases heard by Municipal Courts include traffic and other municipal code violations and certain criminal offenses. Municipal Courts normally may impose fines up to $500 or imprisonment up to 30 days; but if a case is transferred from Circuit Court to Municipal Court by agreement of the State and the defendant, fines up to $5,500 or imprisonment up to one year may be imposed.

In the City of Orangeburg, the Municipal Court has exclusive jurisdiction over first-offense criminal domestic violence cases.

Municipal Courts have no jurisdiction over civil cases.

Municipal Courts share jurisdiction with Family Courts over juvenile violations or traffic, fish and game, and watercraft ordinances.

Where to find court cases in South Carolina

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in South Carolina.
 

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
CivilCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
General Civil - Unlimited
 Most or all General Civil - Unlimited cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
  
 Some General Civil - Unlimited cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
General Civil - Limited
 Some General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
  
 Most or all General Civil - Limited cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
Small Claims   
 Most or all Small Claims cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
Civil Equity
 Most or all Civil Equity cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
    
Complex Commercial
 Most or all Complex Commercial cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
    
Foreclosures and Liens
 Most or all Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
  
 Some Foreclosures and Liens cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
Real Estate Title and Boundary
 Most or all Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Some Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Real Estate Title and Boundary cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Landlord / Tenant
 Some Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
  
 Most or all Landlord / Tenant cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
Ordinance Violations   
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders
 Some Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Family Courts
 
 Some Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
Administrative Agency Appeals
 Most or all Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Some Administrative Agency Appeals cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
CriminalCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
Felony
 Most or all Felony cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
    
Felony Preliminary Hearings   
 Most or all Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Some Felony Preliminary Hearings cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Misdemeanors
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
  
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Some Misdemeanors cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Ordinance Violations   
 Some Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Most or all Ordinance Violations cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Juvenile
 Some Juvenile cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Juvenile cases can be found in the Family Courts
 
 Some Juvenile cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Some Juvenile cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Traffic and Infractions 
 Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Family Courts
 
 Some Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Most or all Traffic and Infractions cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Domestic RelationsCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
Divorce
 Some Divorce cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Divorce cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Child Custody and Visitation
 Some Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Child Custody and Visitation cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Child Support
 Some Child Support cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Child Support cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Paternity
 Some Paternity cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Paternity cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Paternity cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Domestic Violence Protection Order
 Some Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Family Courts
 
 Some Domestic Violence Protection Order cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 
JuvenileCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
Adoptions 
 Most or all Adoptions cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Juvenile Delinquency
 Some Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Family Courts
 
 Some Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Magistrates Courts
 Some Juvenile Delinquency cases can be found in the Municipal Courts
Child Abuse and Neglect 
 Most or all Child Abuse and Neglect cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Termination of Parental Rights 
 Most or all Termination of Parental Rights cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Children in Need of Supervision 
 Most or all Children in Need of Supervision cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Mental HealthCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
Involuntary Commitments 
 Some Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Most or all Involuntary Commitments cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Other Mental Health Cases
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Some Other Mental Health Cases cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
ProbateCircuit CourtsFamily CourtsProbate CourtsMagistrates CourtsMunicipal Courts
Wills & Estates
 Some Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 Most or all Wills & Estates cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Name Changes
 Some Name Changes cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Most or all Name Changes cases can be found in the Family Courts
   
Trusts
 Some Trusts cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 
 Most or all Trusts cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  
Guardianships and Conservatorships
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Circuit Courts
 Some Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Family Courts
 Most or all Guardianships and Conservatorships cases can be found in the Probate Courts
  


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