The Garfield Heights Municipal Court has limited geographic and subject matter jurisdiction.
Although it is located in the City of Garfield Heights and is called the Garfield Heights Municipal Court, the Court has geographic jurisdiction of cases arising in Brecksville, Cuyahoga Heights, Garfield Heights, Independence, Maple Heights, Metro Parks, Newburgh Heights, Valley View and Walton Hills.
The subject matter jurisdiction of the Court is its ability to hear and decide specific types of cases. Garfield Heights Municipal Court has subject matter jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases; traffic cases; limited proceedings in felony cases; civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000.00; and Small Claims cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $3,000.00. Civil marriages are also performed by the Judges.
Misdemeanor cases are criminal cases where the penalty does not exceed one year in jail and/or a fine in excess of $1,000.00. Examples of misdemeanor cases are domestic violence, assault, petty theft, resisting arrest, criminal damaging, menacing, and stalking.
Felony cases, such as murder, robbery, grand theft, etc. may be heard at the preliminary hearing level in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court. If the prosecutor chooses to file felony charges with the Court rather than filing the case directly with the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury, the defendant appears before the Garfield Heights Municipal Court to have bail set and to demand or waive a preliminary hearing.
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether probable cause exists to charge the defendant with the felony offense. If the defendant waives his right to a preliminary hearing or if probable cause is found at the hearing, the felony case is transferred to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for further proceedings.
Traffic cases from the City of Garfield Heights, the Metroparks, and those transferred from all Mayor’s Courts in the geographic jurisdiction of the Garfield Heights Municipal Court are heard by the Court. In some cases, a person who receives a traffic ticket may plead guilty and pay the fine without coming to Court. This is called “waiving” the ticket.
Go to Paying a Ticket by Waiver to find the Court’s waiver procedure and schedule of fines. Persons who wish to plead not guilty or no contest with an explanation must appear in Court before the Judge.
Civil cases are limited to $15,000.00. If the amount of money being sought by either party exceeds $15,000.00, the case may be dismissed or transferred to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Small Claims are civil claims for money damages only and may not exceed $3,000.00. Small Claims Court is designed to be a quick and inexpensive way of resolving civil claims, often without hiring an attorney, although any party may be represented by an attorney if they like.