Rockdale County Magistrate Court – Ordinance Violation Cases
To view the county ordinance fine schedule, click here.
To view and print any of the Court’s county ordinance forms, click here.
To view the Court’s Smart Justice Video, A Day in the Magistrate Court, click here.
To view the Rockdale County Code of Ordinances, please visit www.municode.com.
General County Ordinance Violation Information
All county ordinance cases, before the Rockdale County Magistrate Court, are initiated by the issuance and service of a citation and summons by a county department or office authorized by law to enforce the county ordinance code. The maximum criminal penalty for each county ordinance violation is 60 (sixty) days in jail and a $1, 000 fine. Six months of probation may be imposed as well. If you received a citation, or were arrested, in Rockdale County for a county ordinance violation, it will be for one of the following types of cases:
- Rockdale County Animal Control Department issued the citation for a violation such as inhumane animal treatment, failure to keep dog under control, failure to provide proof of vaccination or a livestock violation.
- Rockdale County Code Enforcement Department issued the citation for a violation such as uncut grass, junk vehicle, trash and debris, outdoor storage, a building or maintenance violation, licensing violation or commercial parking violation.
- Rockdale County Sheriff Office issued the citation for a violation such as disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana less than one ounce or public intoxication.
- Another Rockdale County Department, authorized by the county ordinance code, issued the citation for a decreed or adopted code violation.
County Ordinance Violation Prosecutor
The Rockdale County Attorney, not the District Attorney, serves as the prosecutor for county ordinance cases. Attorney Cheryl Freeman has been assigned as the county prosecutor for your ordinance violation. To contact this prosecutor, call (404) 955-8183 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Defendant’s Right to Counsel and Other Criminal Rights
Criminal defendants have the right to be represented by a licensed attorney. The Rockdale County Public Defender provides court-appointed attorneys for cited defendants who financially qualify. If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney, the Rockdale County Public Defender’s Office will represent you after you complete their application, pay the $50 application fee and successfully show the state law financial qualifications are met. Otherwise, you have the right to represent yourself or retain a private attorney. In county ordinance cases, the Rockdale County Magistrate Clerk’s Office maintains the original citation, all court papers filed by the parties and all court rulings and processes fine and restitution payments. State law prohibits court clerks and judges from giving legal advice. Therefore, Defendants are strongly encouraged to consult their attorneys before making important decisions about their ordinance cases.
Other important criminal rights that apply to county ordinance cases include:
- The right to be informed of, and understand, the violation(s)
- The right to be presumed innocent
- The right to remain silent and not testify against yourself
- The right to a public trial by jury or judge
- The right to require the county prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- The right to confront and cross examine witnesses
- The right to present evidence and have witnesses subpoenaed to testify on your behalf
- The right to appeal if you are convicted
State laws relating to evidence and criminal procedure will apply as well.
County Ordinance Violation Hearings and Trials
County ordinance matters are scheduled for pretrial, plea and post-sentence hearings and bench trials on the first and third Tuesday of every month, at 8:30 a.m., in the Rockdale County Magistrate Courtroom, 948 Bank Street, Conyers, GA 30012. Some county ordinance matters, involving incarcerated defendants, are scheduled for plea and bond hearings on Wednesdays, at 1:00 p.m., in the Rockdale County Jail Courtroom, 911 Chambers Drive, Conyers, GA 30012. To confirm a scheduled court date, please contact the Rockdale County Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office by email, phone or office visit.
Responding to a County Ordinance Citation
Please read each of your citations carefully as it should provide the alleged violation and your court date. If your violation does not appear on the fine schedule or does not show a fine amount, a mandatory court appearance is required for you to respond. Failure to appear will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant, and in some cases, bond forfeiture. If you must appear in court, be sure to bring all of your witnesses and evidence with you. Print all photos, emails, text messages and documentation as cell phones are not generally permitted in the courtroom and all admitted evidence is retained as part of the court record.
Prior to your scheduled court date, if your violation appears on the fine schedule and shows a fine amount, you may:
- Admit responsibility in person, by entering a guilty or no contest plea, and pay the listed fine. The Court will enter a final disposition and close your case. As the court clerks are strictly prohibited by state law from giving legal advice, you are encouraged to consult with your attorney or conduct your own legal research to determine how to best proceed with your case.
The Judge can neither dismiss a case, nor modify a violation, without a court hearing. If you believe that a compelling explanation exists for a reduced fine, or alternative final resolution of your case such as a dismissal or pretrial diversion agreement, you may contact the county prosecutor to discuss your case by phone or email. If the Judge accepts an agreement between you and the county prosecutor, you will be notified and must pay your reduced fine, or pretrial diversion fee, prior to your court date.
- Deny responsibility, by entering a not guilty plea, when you appear in court. A bench trial may be held immediately or, in the court’s discretion, rescheduled. You may watch the Court’s Smart Justice Video, A Day in the Magistrate Court, for more helpful court appearance information. The trial is a formal judicial process. The Judge must apply Georgia’s rules of evidence, criminal procedure and other laws when determining whether a violation occurred and all other legal issues. If the Judge finds you not guilty, your case will be immediately closed. If the Judge finds you guilty, you and the county prosecutor may offer sentence recommendations. The victim may offer a victim impact statement prior to sentencing. To challenge a county ordinance conviction, a writ of certiorari, enumerating legal errors, must be filed in the state or superior court within 30 days of the conviction.
Forfeiting a Cash Bond to Conclude a County Ordinance Case
If you were arrested and a cash bond was posted for your release, it is your obligation to appear at all court dates until your case is closed or the Judge has continued your case, in writing, by reset notice and/or court order.
You may forfeit a cash bond, by filing bond forfeiture and waiver of rights forms, prior to your court date or when you appear at your court hearing as well. A bond forfeiture is a guilty plea according to state law. If your surety raises a timely objection to your bond forfeiture, you will be required to promptly pay your fine by other means. Commercial bonds, which were posted by a bonding company, and own recognizance (OR) bonds cannot not be voluntarily forfeited by you to resolve your case.
If you do not admit responsibility, and your case is not closed before your court date, you must appear in court as scheduled for a hearing or a bench warrant will issue for your arrest and your cash bond may still be forfeited in accordance with state law.
Paying Your Fine and Court-Ordered Restitution
Fine and restitution payments are payable by cash, bank-certified check and money order, in person. Do not mail cash. Each fine includes a penal amount and mandatory state assessments. State law requires that pretrial diversion fees include mandatory state assessments as well. To pay a fine in the Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office, you will need to provide:
- Your name as stated on the citation and
- Your correct case number and violation(s)
Reporting for Pretrial Diversion and Sentence Compliance Hearings
If you and the county prosecutor enter a pretrial diversion agreement, your case will remain open and prosecutable until you successfully fulfill all terms of the agreement and the county’s motion for dismissal is granted by the Judge.
If you have been convicted and ordered to pay a fine, restitution and/or undertake specified compliance actions, you should review your final disposition to determine whether you must appear at a future court hearing.
Further, no county officer has the authority to excuse you from any scheduled court hearing. Only the Judge may remove or continue your case from a court calendar. Failure to appear before in court, after receiving legal notice, will result in sanctions and the issuance of a bench warrant.
Attending Court as a Victim or Witness
If you were injured when a violation occurred, for example, the defendant failed to keep his dog under control, which led to the dog biting you or your pet, then you are a victim. The Georgia General Assembly found and declared it to be the policy of this state that victims of crimes should be accorded certain basic rights just as the accused are accorded certain basic rights, including, but not limited to, fair and dignified treatment by all criminal justice agencies, law enforcement and prosecutorial notifications and communication, opportunity to be present and heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the defendant and restitution payment as provided by state law. To learn more about your obligations, rights and resources as a victim, click here.
If you reported the violation but were not injured, or have provided other relevant information to the citing law enforcement officer, you may be considered a prosecution witness. Conversely, if you have provided relevant explanatory or exonerating information to the defendant or his attorney, you may be considered a defense witness. If you receive a valid court summons, known as a subpoena, you must appear at the court hearing. You should notify the county prosecutor or the defendant, whoever served the subpoena, of any potential scheduling conflicts as soon as possible. Failure to appear, after receiving a valid court summons, may lead to sanctions. If you have not received a valid subpoena, your appearance is voluntary. A judicial outcome and disposition may be impacted when a witness fails to appear.
Receiving a Surety’s Cash Bond Refund or Victim’s Restitution Payments
A cash bond may be refunded, in the event that no earlier bond forfeiture occurred, after the bond is remitted to the Court by the Sheriff’s Office and the case is closed by dismissal, acquittal or conviction. A cash bond will only be refunded to the person (surety) who posted the bond and whose name appears on the original bond documentation. The cash bond refund will automatically be disbursed, within approximately 30 days of the case closure, by mail to the surety’s last known address. Therefore, it is exceedingly important that the surety file a change of address form updating the surety’s mailing address upon relocation. The surety may obtain the cash bond refund, in person, at the Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office. Government-issued valid photo identification is required to personally receive a cash bond refund.
Court-ordered restitution will automatically be disbursed, within approximately 30 days from remittance, by mail to the victim’s last known address. Therefore, it is exceedingly important that the victim file a change of address form updating the victim’s mailing address upon relocation. The victim may obtain the restitution payment, in person, at the Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office. Government-issued valid photo identification is required to personally receive a restitution payment.