The Municipal Court  is the judicial branch of City government and administers justice within the jurisdiction of the City. Administrative functions include case docketing, case management, caseload reporting, and collection of fines. Judicial functions include conducting trials, issuing warrants, bond hearings, prisoner releases, and providing information to citizens and defendants regarding penalties, court rules, and available community resources/programs.

Effective June 26, 2012, the new Municipal Court hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Weekend and holiday hours for bond hearings are at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:00 p.m. with a judge “on-call” for emergency situations.

Violations of state laws and municipal ordinances heard in Municipal Court are generally in two categories: Criminal and Traffic. Criminal violations include criminal domestic violence, larceny, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, shoplifting, public disorderly conduct, etc. Traffic violations include DUS, DUI, speeding, reckless driving, failure to yield right of way, parking, etc.

For more information, click on the links above.

ANONYMOUS CRIME TIP HOTLINE  803-289-6040

CITY HOTLINE 803-283-2489

Bench Trials

Regular traffic and criminal bench trials are held each Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. in the Municipal Justice Center courtroom. Both the ticket and bond form indicate the trial date and time. If the case must be con-tinued, a subpoena will be mailed to the last address provided by the defendant or witness.

Failure to appear for any trial or pay the fine imposed may result in a bench warrant or a suspension of driver’s license.

If a defendant or victim wishes to have witnesses subpoenaed for a case, names and complete mailing addresses must be provided at least ten days before the trial date to allow adequate time for delivery of the notice.

Jury Trials

Jury trials are held approximately five weeks during the year. A jury trial must either be requested in writing or requested in court on the initial court appearance date. A jury pool is chosen by computer from the updated voter registration listing obtained each year from the SC Election Commission. Subpoenas are sent to the last address provided by the defendant.


Payments

Bonds are usually set when a traffic or parking ticket is issued or when a warrant is served.  In most cases, a bond can be paid in full prior to the court date if the defendant prefers to pay rather than appear for a trial.  After trial, a fine is set and is expected to be paid immediately unless indigence can be determined.

Bonds and fines for parking tickets, traffic tickets, or criminal offenses may be paid to the court in the form of cash, money order, or a certified check made payable to Lancaster Municipal Court. Personal checks are not accepted.

Money order or certified check payments may be mailed to Lancaster Municipal Court, PO Box 1149, Lancaster, SC 29721-1149. Include ticket or warrant numbers on the payment to ensure correct posting. A receipt will be mailed to the return address on the payment envelope.

Hearings

Preliminary hearings can be requested by any defendant charged with an offense beyond the jurisdiction of the Municipal Court.  Preliminary hearings are held in General Sessions court at 9:00 a.m. on the Wednesday before the first appearance date.  Defendants charged with a crime in General Sessions Court will receive written notification during their bond hearing. Preliminary hearings must be requested in writing.

Preliminary hearings give a municipal judge the opportunity to review and determine the existence of probable cause that the defendant committed the crime with which he has been charged. If the judge finds there is no probable cause, the case may be dismissed. If the judge finds probable cause, the case is transferred to Sixth Circuit Court for trial.

Violations of state laws and municipal ordinances heard in Municipal Court are generally in two categories: Criminal and Traffic. Criminal violations include criminal domestic violence, larceny, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, shoplifting, public disorderly conduct, etc. Traffic violations include DUS, DUI, speeding, reckless driving, failure to yield right of way, parking, etc.

General Sessions

Appearance for a General Sessions Court offense is mandatory for the time set and stated on the bond form at the time of release from jail and for such other future dates as determined by that Court.

Important Information

Always report address changes promptly to ensure important mail is received.

If traffic tickets are not paid by your court date, NRVC forms will be issued and mailed to the Driver Records Division of the SC Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend driving privileges. Additional expenses will be incurred to reinstate driving privileges once the fine has been paid to the court.

Continuance of a trial date may be granted by court staff when sufficient proof is provided that such a scheduling change is necessary. Reasonable attempts will be made to contact all parties regarding the change.

Witnesses living more than 20 miles from Lancaster cannot be compelled to attend. However, in some cases, complainants may find it in their best interest to appear anyway. Defendants are required to appear regardless of where they reside.