The Magistrate is a judicial officer of the North Carolina General Court of Justice - District Court Division who handles certain criminal and civil matters. In criminal cases, a Magistrate issues warrants and sets bail. A Magistrate may also accept guilty pleas and payments of fines and costs for traffic violations and minor misdemeanors, and in some counties, may conduct trials in certain worthless check cases. In civil cases, the Magistrate presides over small claims court cases under $5,000.
Qualifications and Term Requirements Magistrates are appointed to a four-year term by the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge from among persons nominated by the Clerk of Superior Court. The Chief District Court Judge sets their work schedules. A Magistrate must have a four-year degree from an institution of higher learning, or a two-year degree plus four years of relevant work experience. Magistrates must participate in continuing professional education for as long as they serve. Their salaries are set by statute and are based on years of service as a Magistrate.
Obtaining a Warrant What to Bring
In order to obtain a warrant, the plaintiff must at least have the defendant’s name and address available; Without this basic information, a warrant cannot be obtained.
• Warrants shall only be issued in the county/jurisdiction
where the crime actually occurred.
• If the plaintiff is under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian
must be present to obtain the warrant on their behalf.
• A warrant may not be obtained on a defendant under 16
years of age without juvenile petition being taken out by
Juvenile Services or Law Enforcement Officer.
• Citizens may obtain misdemeanor warrants only. Law
Enforcement Officers must obtain felony warrants.
• Domestic restraining orders may be obtained in
the Magistrate's office.
• Civil restraining orders must be obtained in the Clerk’s
• Civil processes must be issued in the county in which the
What to Expect
The Magistrate will determine probable cause for the issuance of the warrant and a court date will be set. The Magistrate is an independent judicial official who does not offer legal advice.