Reelect Chief Magistrate Judge James Drane

Member in Good Standing of the State Bar of Georgia

What is an Abandoned Motor Vehicle?

A motor vehicle is considered abandoned if:
    1. It has been left by the owner or some person acting for the owner with an automobile dealer, repairman, or wrecker service for repairs or for some other reason and has not been called for by such person within:
            days after the time agreed upon,
            when no time is agreed upon, within thirty (30) days after the vehicle is turned over to such dealer, repairman, or wrecker service; or within thirth (30) days after the completion of necessary repairs.
    2. It is left unattended on a public street, road, highway, or other public property for a period of at least five (5) days and when it reasonably appears to a law enforcement officer that the individual who left such motor vehicle unattended does not intend to return to such motor vehicle;
    3. It has been lawfully towed onto the property of another at the request of a law enforcement officer and left there for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without anyone having made claim to the vehicle;
    4. It has been lawfully towed onto the property of another at the request of the property owner on whose property the vehicle was abandoned and left there for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without the owner(s) having made claim to the vehicle;
    5. it has been left unattended on private property for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without anyone having made claim thereto.

Civil Claims

Each Magistrate Court shall have jurisdiction and power over civil cases in which the amount demanded or the value of the property claimed does not exceed $15,000.00. Please see O.C.G.A. 15-10-2(5) and (6). Rather than filing in Magistrate Court, the plaintiff always has the option to file the case in Superior, as well as State Court. There are no jury trials in Magistrate Court. There is no right to discovery in the Magistrate Court, and prejudgment discovery is not generally permitted.


In suits against an individual, venue is only in the county in which they reside. Suits against foreign corporations doing business in the state of Georgia can be filed in the county of the principal office or in the county of the registered agent. Any other party, natural or corporate, not present in the state, may be subject to suit arising from their contact with the state, if they transact business inside the state of Georgia, commit a tortuous act or omission in the state (except for defamation), commit a tortuous injury in the state caused by an act or omission outside the state, own, use, or possess real property in the state, or have specified personal contacts in certain domestic cases.

The civil claim is initiated by the plaintiff filing a claim against the defendant party in Magistrate Court. The plaintiff, or his agent, must file with the court the last known address of the Defendant. The complaint must be verified. Filings may be received electronically. Service of the suit is then completed using the address provided by the plaintiff.


After the Defendant is given the opportunity to answer the complaint, a hearing is set on the merits of the case.

Civil suits hearings are usually held every Weds. at 8:30 AM. 

Citizen Pre-Arrest Warrant Applications & Hearings.

If you believe that you are the victim of a felony, virtually all felony criminal investigations in Cherokee County are handled solely by trained and certified law enforcement officers. You should immediately contact the law enforcement agency where the crime occurred. They are trained to successfully investigate, procure evidence and prosecute felony offenders.

If the alleged offense is a misdemeanor (punishable by less than 12 months in custody) and you believe that you can reasonably undertake this criminal proceeding yourself, then you would go to the respective Magistrate Court in the county where the alleged crime occurred. If the criminal offense occurred in Cherokee County, you would come to the Cherokee County Magistrate Court. 

If the crime occurred in another county, you would go to that respective Magistrate Court.

You will complete a citizen pre-arrest and warrant application form. There is a fee of $10.00 which must be paid in cash prior to hearing.

The clerk will administer an oath and forward your application to a judge. The judge will read your sworn written application. If the judge finds that the application and sworn written testimony supports a finding a probable cause that a crime may have occurred, then the arrest warrant application is set for a formal warrant application hearing. Under current law, there are very few instances when a criminal arrest warrant can be immediately issued upon the application of a private citizen without the required step of a subsequent warrant application hearing.

If the Judge determines that the application should be set down for a hearing, notice is sent to the parties including the date, time, and location of the hearing.

An essential aspect of this procedure is the duty of the court to insure that the accused has legal, due process notice of this hearing. If the court finds that there is insufficient address information, or that mail notice was returned, as undeliverable, then the hearing must be cancelled. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the applicant provide the court with correct address information for the accused.

The final determination of whether or not to issue a criminal warrant will be determined at the warrant application hearing. Either party may be represented by counsel.

If the judge does not find probable cause that a crime has occurred, as defined by Georgia law, then that ends the case at this time. Should additional evidence be discovered, or should new witnesses are forthcoming, a new application can be re-submitted provided that such application is made within the applicable statute of limitations.

Landlord-Tenant Issues

First, there must be a landlord and tenant relationship between the parties. The tenant must be either a tenant holding over, a tenant at will, a tenant at sufferance, or not paying rent as it becomes due. The landlord must have made a demand for possession of the premises prior to commencement of the proceedings. The action should be filed in the county where the property is located. The landlord may file claim for damages done to the property during the term of the lease. If the tenant is still in possession of the property at the time of the dispossessory hearing, damages may be difficult to prove at trial. Generally, another civil action is required to obtain a judgment for damages to the premises.

The landlord must serve the tenant with a copy of the dispossessory action. This is ordinarily done by the Sheriff’s Department and such fees are collected at the time of filing. Service on the tenant must be attempted in this order: personal, sui juris (left with any person residing at the premises of suitable age and discretion), and tack and mail.

A landlord may legally remove a tenant and the tenant’s property from rented premises only under the dispossessory procedure. If a landlord uses “self-help” to evict a tenant without a dispossessory it is a tort for which the tenant may recover damages in a civil action, and a landlord who cuts off utilities may be subject to misdemeanor prosecution.


After the tenant has given reasonable notice of a defect to the landlord, and the landlord has failed to make the repair within a reasonable time, the tenant may make reasonable repairs and deduct the reasonable cost from the rent, or the tenant may file suit against the landlord for damages arising from the failure to repair. If the landlord has filed suit against the tenant, the tenant may seek recoupment for any dimunition in value of the leasehold caused by the landlord’s failure to repair. The tenant may not stop outright the paying of rent.


Assuming the tenant does not answer the complaint for dispossessory with in seven (7) days of service of the summons, the landlord may contact the Magistrate Court about presenting a writ of possession to a judge for signature. If an answer is filed in a dispossessory action, the court then schedules a hearing for the next available dispossessory calendar. Dispossessory calendars are usually held every Thursday at 8:30AM.


Deposit Account Fraud or "Bad Checks"

The crime of Deposit Account Fraud, formerly “bad checks,” can be a misdemeanor or felony offense. Since it is a criminal offense, the prosecutor is required to strictly comply with each and every one of the essential elements set forth in that code section. Please see O.C.G.A. § 16-9-20. Failure
to comply with any one of the statutory procedures may cause a denial or dismissal of the arrest warrant.


Alternatively, the receiver of a “bad check” may choose to proceed to sue for damages in a civil proceeding. The reasons for this choice commonly include, a failure to meet the essential elements for a criminal action, a post-dated check, failure to strictly follow the statutory procedures, the person receiving the check did not witness the signature or simply the company/personal policy of the recipient. Damages for the face amount of the check, plus service charges, and in some instances, punitive damages of double the face amount of the check up to a maximum of $500.00 may be awarded.

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