What exactly is Transfer Court?

Criminal cases are heard in two types of Courts. Summary Courts (Magistrate or Municipal) and General Sessions. 

Criminal domestic violence 1st offense cases are brought in Summary Court in most all cases. The Summary Court has jurisdiction since the sentence cannot exceed 30 days.

Criminal domestic violence 2nd or 3rd offenses, and cases of a High and Aggravated Nature, are referred to General Sessions. The Summary Court does not have jurisdiction to hear these types of cases since the sentences can exceed 30 days.

To assist the Courts in larger counties process through more cases the Legislature created a statute authorizing Transfer Court. Essentially Transfer Court is a special term of General Sessions which is presided over by a Magistrate judge. Magistrate judges are the same level that usually preside over the Summary Courts.

Sitting in Transfer Court the Magistrate has the authority to impose sentences of up to one year imprisonment. The Court does not have the authority to impose probation. Trials in Transfer Court has six jurors, which is the same as in Summary Courts, and less than the twelve that would hear a General Sessions case.

Not all counties have a Transfer Court. In the ones that do the Solicitor's office usually tries to refer all second offense CDV cases. Because Transfer Court is limited to one year sentences Transfer Court does not have the authority If a defendant objects to having their case heard in Transfer Court they have a right to require it remain in General Sessions.

The decision whether or not to allow your case to proceed in Transfer Court is always one you should discuss over with your attorney. There may be time limits imposed on your ability to file an objection for a referral to Transfer Court and if these limits pass you may lose certain rights.

Categories: Domestic Violence
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