Criminal Appeals & Motions for New Trial
Anyone convicted of a criminal or traffic offense who feels the court's decision was in error may appeal the decision. An appeal will be heard by another judge in the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court judge may only consider the testimony and evidence that was actually presented in the trial in the Magistrate Court. The Circuit Court judge does not retry the case and cannot consider any testimony or evidence that was not presented in the original trial. After hearing the appeal, the Circuit Court judge may order that the case be returned to the Magistrate Court for a new trial, reverse the decision, or allow the decision of the Magistrate Court to stand.
To appeal a criminal or traffic case, the defendant must deliver to the judge who presided at the original trial a Notice of Appeal within ten days of the verdict. The reasons for the appeal must be specific but do not need to be very technical. A statement, for example, that "I was not guilty" is not specific enough.
There is no fee for an appeal in criminal or traffic cases. Upon receipt of the Notice of Appeal, the trial judge will forward a record of the case, including all evidence that was offered, to the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court will set the case for a hearing before a Circuit Court judge and notify you of the place, date and time. You must attend this hearing and present arguments as to why the decision made by the Magistrate Court should be changed. After the hearing, you will be notified by the Clerk of Court as to the decision made by the Circuit Court judge. More detailed information about criminal appeals can be found in in the South Carolina Bench Book for Magistrates and Municipal Court Judges in Criminal Section H., 14., a.
An alternative to appeal is a Motion for a New Trial. There is no fee associated with filing this motion. A Motion for a New Trial must be served on the judge who presided at the trial within five days of notice of the verdict. The motion must also be supported by specific reasons why the original decision was in error. These do not have to be very technical. The original trial judge will decide whether to grant or deny your request for a new trial. You will be notified by the magistrate court of the judge's decision. If the motion for a new trial is granted, you will be advised of the date and time for the new trial. At this trial, evidence can be presented that was not presented at the original trial. More detailed information about motions for a new trial can be found in the South Carolina Bench Book for Magistrates and Municipal Judges in General Section D., 7.
If the motion for a new trial is denied, you may appeal this decision within thirty days after notice of this decision. The appeal is completed and will be decided in the same manner as set forth above.