It is the duty and goal of the Municipal Court to provide our citizens and users of the court efficient, fair, and impartial justice, in order to protect each citizen's right to due process, under the laws and ordinances of our country, state, and city.
The Easley Municipal Court is considered a summary court and is one of many courts within the South Carolina judicial system. The court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor, criminal, traffic, and municipal ordinance violations that carry a penalty up to a $500.00 fine or 30 days in jail, or both. One current exception is the driving under suspension law, which gives the court exclusive jurisdiction of the violation, requiring maximum penalties up to a $2,100.00 fine and 180 days in jail. State law also requires assessments and surcharges to be applied upon sentencing of most violations.
Examples of common misdemeanor laws violated within the court's trial jurisdiction are: possession of drugs, criminal domestic violence, assault and battery, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, larceny, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding and other traffic violations. Municipal judges issue arrest, search, and bench warrants for misdemeanor and felony crimes that occur within the municipality. Once someone is arrested for a violation, a judge must conduct a bond hearing within twenty-four hours. Judges also preside over preliminary hearings, bench, and jury trials. The clerk of court and assistants manage the caseload, collect fines, and respond to a multitude of public inquiries by telephone and appearance.
The court was once known as the City Recorder's Court, and prior to that a Mayor's Court. The City of Easley's earliest written records indicate some interesting history reflecting cases held in the court during these earlier periods. Defendants were convicted of various offenses such as the Prohibition law, gambling, drunk, hobo, and vagrancy. These charges carried penalties of $5.00 and $10.00 or thirty days in jail. A driving under the influence conviction in 1925 carried a penalty of $25.00 fine or 30 days, today a DUI conviction carries a penalty of $992.00 or 30 days in jail. Some of these laws have been repealed but others will probably remain in effect for years to come.