General Session Court
The General Sessions Court Unit is responsible for:
The management, integrity and maintenance of all Beaufort County Sheriff's Office criminal cases going to General Sessions Court
To prepare and present criminal cases to the Beaufort County Grand Jury
Coordinating criminal cases with the Beaufort County Magistrate’s Office for preliminary hearings and assists in notification to individual Deputies for the presentation of their cases.
Act as liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and the Solicitor’s Office in reference to General Sessions cases and to provide the Solicitor Office with case documentation needed for trial.
Act as the Sheriff’s Office liaison to the Public Defender’s Office as well as to private defense attorneys for General Sessions Subpoenas and other requested information.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can I check on the status of a General Sessions case in Beaufort County?
The status of all General Sessions cases in Beaufort County can be checked for status and viewed at:
What is General Sessions Court?
South Carolina Circuit Courts are divided into two divisions:
General Sessions (criminal court); and
Common Pleas (civil court).
General Sessions Court handles felony and misdemeanor criminal cases ranging from those with a penalty of more than 30 days and / or a $500 fine to those carrying the death penalty.
The Magistrate and Municipal court system handles misdemeanor offenses with a penalty of 30 days or less and / or a fine of up to $500.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
Felony and misdemeanor are legal terms describing the seriousness of a crime. A felony is a very serious crime. Felonies generally carry long prison sentences of a year or more. Examples of a felony are attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime. Misdemeanors carry shorter prison sentences. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include simple possession of marijuana, simple assault and battery, and tampering with an electric meter.
State law classifies crimes as felonies and others as misdemeanors. Title 16 of the South Carolina Code contains a list of felonies and misdemeanors.
What is a Preliminary Hearing?
These hearings are available to defendants charged with serious offenses triable only in General Sessions Court. The defendant has the right to request a preliminary hearing within 10 days of the bond hearing.
What is the Grand Jury?
A Grand Jury is a panel of citizens convened by the court to decide whether it is appropriate to bring charges against someone suspected of a crime. If the Grand Jury decides there is reason to bring someone to trial, it returns a “true bill” and issues an indictment. If it finds insufficient reason, it returns a “no bill.”