Magistrate Court jurisdiction includes: civil claims of $15,000 or less; certain minor criminal offenses such as shoplifting; distress warrants and dispossessory writs; county ordinance violations; deposit account fraud (bad checks); preliminary hearings; and summonses, arrest and search warrants. Magistrates may grant bail in cases where the setting of bail is not exclusively reserved to a judge of another court. No jury trials are held in magistrate court. If a defendant submits a written request for a jury trial, cases may be removed to superior court. (Source: www.georgiacourts.org).
The District Attorney’s Office receives cases for prosecution primarily through warrants issued by and warrantless arrests approved by Magistrate Court. Some cases also come to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution in Superior Court after originating in Magistrate Court after the accused requests a jury trial.
The District Attorney’s most direct involvement in Magistrate Court is during first appearance hearings which occur every week day and at least one day on weekends. All persons charged with a crime are entitled to be brought before a Magistrate within 72 hours of arrest and advised of the charges against them and of their rights including their right to counsel. The Magistrate Court also addresses the issue of bail in cases where the Magistrate is legally able to set bail. The District Attorney's Office provides information to the Magistrate Court and to the Public Defender’s Office about the cases scheduled for first appearance and in appropriate cases opposes the granting of bond or requests that bond consideration be deferred to Superior Court for a formal bond hearing. The District Attorney also recommends appropriate bond conditions on cases where bond is set.
Murray County Magistrate Court
Bryant Cochran, Chief Magistrate
121 N. Fourth Avenue
Chatsworth, Georgia 30705
Phone: (706) 517-1400
Whitfield County Magistrate Court
205 N Selvidge Street
Dalton, Georgia 30720
Phone: (706) 278-5052