About the Magistrate

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 a guilty plea and payments of fines and costs for traffic violations and minor misdemeanors, and in some counties, many conduct trials in certain worthless check cases. In civil cases, the Magistrate presides over small claims court.


Magistrates are appointed to a two-year term by the senior resident Superior Court judge from among persons nominated by the Clerk of the 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.