Court of Common Pleas
and General Sessions
Clerk of Court
Common Pleas and
100 Broad Street,
958-5000 Fax: (843) 958-5020
Clerk of Court
100 Broad Street,
Phone: (843) 958-4400
Fax: (843) 958-4434
The Court of Common Pleas and General
Sessions are the civil and criminal branches of
the Circuit Court of South Carolina.
Charleston and Berkeley Counties form the 9th
Judicial Circuit of the state's 16 circuits. 43
circuit judges rotate among the 16 circuits. Circuit
Court judges are elected by the General Assembly and
serve 6 year terms.
The Family Court was established by
statute in 1976 and follows the territorial
boundaries of the 16 judicial circuits. The 49
Family Court judges rotate assignments within this
circuit. Family Court judges are elected to
four-year terms by the General Assembly.
The Court of Common Pleas is the court
of general jurisdiction over civil cases in
Charleston County, exempting those cases in which the
amount or value of property in dispute is less than
$7,500. Cases involving money or property totaling
less than $7,500 are heard in Small Claims
The Court of General Sessions is the
court of general jurisdiction over criminal cases in
Charleston County, exempting most misdemeanor cases,
which are usually adjudicated in the Magistrates'
Courts. Special Magistrates' Courts also exist for
the purpose of handling the bond hearing and
preliminary hearing phases of the criminal case
Family Court has jurisdiction over
matters such as child support, adoption, domestic
abuse, abuse and neglect, interstate custody cases,
Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("URESA")
cases, and domestic relations; that is, cases such
as divorce, annulment, paternity, and change of
name. Family Court also serves as a collection agent
for child support in Charleston County. Juvenile
criminal matters are also adjudicated in Family
Unlike the Courts of Common Pleas or General
Sessions, many Family Court case records are
considered confidential and may only be inspected
with special permission. Cases involving juvenile
delinquency, adoptions, termination of parental
rights, abuse and neglect and any other case in
which the records are ordered sealed by the court,
are completely confidential. Files for these types
of cases may not be inspected, and the cases are not
available for access through the Clerk of Court's
Public Access system.
The Clerk of Court provides administrative
support to the Courts in the following manner:
- Process legal actions of a civil or criminal
- Keeps and maintains case records, including
records of judgments.
- Records transcripts of judgment from the
Small Claims courts, and out-of-county judgments
- Schedules civil Jury and Non-Jury trials ,
and maintains a schedule of other types of
- Collects and disburses money as ordered by
The Clerk of Court also handles the
- Records military discharges (DD214) when
filed by the discharged service member.
- Maintains records on the issuance of bonds
for public improvements.
- Records signatures of Notary Publics.
- Files campaign disclosures of candidates who
reside in the county.
- Records and registers ministers,
magistrates, peace officers, and bail bondsmen.