Commonly Used Terms

  • Criminal charges in Georgia can be handled in Superior, State, Probate, Juvenile, and Municipal Courts.
  • Superior Court handles all Felony cases and in a county that does not have a State Court, it will handle Misdemeanor cases also.
  • State Court handles Misdemeanor and Traffic offenses but not all counties have a State Court. If the county does not have a State Court then MisdemeanorsĀ or Traffic Offenses will be handled by Superior or Probate Court.
  • Probate Court handles some Misdemeanors and Traffic offenses in counties without a State Court.
  • Municipal Courts are City courts and only handle Traffic Offenses and Misdemeanors.
  • A Jury trial or trial by jury is a legal proceeding in which a jury of your peers either makes a decision or makes findings of fact.
  • A Bench trial is when a Judge makes all decisions.
  • A Warrant is an arrest order issued by a Judge after probable cause has been shown by a law enforcement officer or victim.
  • Bail or Bond is set by either a Magistrate Judge or in certain specific charges a Superior Court Judge. It allows for the release of the defendant with conditions that the defendant must follow.
  • Arraignment is a hearing for the defendant to be advised of the charges against him or her and be allowed an opportunity to plead guilty of not guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the Judge will usually sentence the Defendant that day. If the Defendant pleads not guilty, the case will be scheduled for a bench trial or jury trial if demanded.
  • Subpoena is a court document that requires your presence in court. Subpoena’s can be issued by the State or the Defendant to require witnesses to be in court.
  • Misdemeanors can carry a sentence up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine.
  • High and Aggravated Misdemeanors can carry up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
  • Felonies can carry a sentence greater than 12 months imprisonment.