First … a quick review • What is a misdemeanor? • Less serious crime, punishment is < 1 year in prison, < $1,000 fine, or both • Examples: shoplifting (depending upon amount stolen), vandalism, trespassing
What is a felony? • Serious crime, > 1 year in prison, > $1,000 fine or both • Examples – murder, burglary, assault, arson
Jurisdiction – what is it? • The cases over which a court has control.
Municipal Courts • Also known as special courts, these courts deal with municipal, or local, issues. • They may do the following: • Handle ordinance violations, such as curfew violations, cruelty to animals, truancy, assault and battery • Issue criminal warrants • Conduct preliminary hearings • Try cases involving drug possession in small quantities
Probate Courts • 159 courts (1 for each county in Georgia) • Judges in these courts are elected for 4 year terms • These courts perform the following functions: • Wills and estates after death • Issue marriage licenses • Issue firearms licenses • Have jury trials in large counties only
Magistrate Courts • 159 courts (1 for each county in Georgia) • Some of these judges are appointed by county legislators, some are elected for 4 year terms • These courts perform the following: • Issue arrest warrants • Issue search warrants • Try civil cases (less than $15,000) – no jury trials
Juvenile Courts • 159 courts (1 for each county in Georgia) • Judges in these courts are appointed by Superior Court judges for 4 year terms • This court handles the following: • Cases for children 18 years old and younger who are deprived or neglected • Cases for children 17 years old and younger with unruly or delinquent behavior • No jury trials
State Courts • 71 courts in Georgia (not every county has one) • Judges are elected for 4 year terms • These courts handle the following: • Misdemeanors • Civil cases • Traffic violations • This court does conduct jury trials
Superior Courts • 49 circuit courts (circuit may be several counties combined) • Judges are elected for 4 year terms • This court handles the following: • Civil issues • Misdemeanor cases • Felony cases including violent crimes committed by juveniles • Conduct jury trials
Superior Courts • Exclusive jurisdiction over: • Felony cases • Divorce • Civil cases involving land • Writs of habeas corpus • Also hear appeals (when someone is unhappy with the verdict from a lower court) from state courts, juvenile courts, probate courts, and magistrate courts.
Court of Appeals • 4 courts – 12 judges in total • Judges are elected for 6 year terms • Hears appeals from lower courts
Georgia Supreme Court • One court – 7 justices total • Judges are elected to 6 year terms • This is Georgia’s highest court • Primary job is to interpret the Georgia Constitution, final appellate court • Deals frequently with death penalty and fair election cases • Appeals from the Court of Appeals • Decisions from this court are binding and have the effect of making law
Georgia Supreme Court Justices Let there be justice, though the heavens may fall.
Georgia Supreme Court building Atlanta, GA