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Criminal Procedures for Citizens (FAQs | Forms)

Arrest Warrant Applications & Application Hearings

If you believe that you are the victim of a felony, virtually all felony criminal investigations in Gwinnett 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. Therefore, if the criminal offense occurred in Gwinnett County, you would come to the Gwinnett Magistrate Court. Our criminal division is located on the second floor of the Gwinnett County Detention Center, 2900 University Parkway, Lawrenceville, GA 30043. You may find directions on this website by going to directions and selecting Gwinnett County Detention Center.

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

You will complete a criminal arrest warrant application form. There is a fee that can be found on the Magistrate Fee Page which must be paid in cash prior to hearing. Pursuant to federal and state law, there is no fee to hear cases involving allegations of family violence or stalking.

The judge will administer an oath, read your application and hear your sworn testimony.

If the judge finds that the application and sworn testimony supports a finding of a probable cause that a crime, as defined by the laws of the state of Georgia may have occurred, then under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 17-4-40(B), most civilian arrest warrant applications are then 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.

  • O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (1) If application is made for a warrant by a person other than a peace officer or law enforcement officer and the application alleges the commission of an offense against the penal laws, the judge or other officer shall schedule a warrant application hearing as provided in this subsection. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (4) At the warrant application hearing, the rules regarding admission of evidence at a commitment hearing shall apply. The person seeking the warrant shall have the customary rights of presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. The person whose arrest is sought may cross-examine the person or persons applying for the warrant and any other witnesses testifying in support of the application at the hearing. The person whose arrest is sought may present evidence that probable cause does not exist for his or her arrest. The judge ... shall have the right to limit the presentation of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses to the issue of probable cause. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (5) At the warrant application hearing , a determination shall be made whether or not probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the person whose arrest is sought. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the warrant may issue instanter.

If the Judge determines that the application should be set down for a hearing, the Court will prepare the form entitled a Civilian Warrant Hearing (MAG 20-04) listing the crime alleged and setting down the time, date, and location of the hearing. The Judge delivers one copy to the warrant applicant at the time of the application. The Clerk of Court mails one copy to the defendant at the address provided by the applicant.

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 for civilian prosecutors to 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 be forthcoming, a new application can be re-submitted provided that such application is made within the applicable statute of limitations.

Persons desiring to initiate a misdemeanor civilian warrant application should review and complete the following forms:

  1. Review ‘Instructions Citizen Arrest Warrants’ (MAG 20-39)
  2. Complete ‘Criminal Arrest Warrant Application’ (MAG 20-20)
  3. Complete ‘Address Verification, Civilian Warrant Hearings’ (MAG 20-20V)
  4. Complete ‘Victim ID’ form, (MAG 20-32)

Bad Check Prosecutions

Bad checks procedures are more fully described in a separate section. See Bad Checks

Frequently Asked Questions | Forms