Sheriff Joey Terrell
The Office of Sheriff is one of the oldest offices known to the English common law system. It is an office of great dignity. Today’s sheriffs are elected officials who, with a few exceptions, serve as the chief law enforcement officer for a county. Although the duties of the sheriff vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction the sheriff’s office is generally active in all three branches of the criminal justice system: law enforcement, the courts and corrections.
The Office of Sheriff is established by the state constitution in most states. Other states have established the office by act of the state legislature. In Georgia, the Sheriff is both a constitutional and a county officer. The constitutionality of the office derives primarily from English Common Law. The status as a county office is drawn from a number of general constitutional provisions relating to the office.
It is the responsibility of the Sheriff to maintain peace, protect life, protect property and provide service to the community. Specific duties of the Office of Sheriff today include: providing law enforcement and traffic safety services, operating the county jail, serving as an officer of the court and serving criminal warrants, subpoenas and civil papers.
Each county has one elected sheriff; in turn, the sheriff appoints deputies to assist him in carrying out their official duties. The position of deputy sheriff is recognized by both statutory and case law in Georgia.
Some sheriffs still have time to drop by the town coffee shop to chat with residents each day while others report to an office in a skyscraper and manage an office whose budget exceeds millions and millions of dollars. Despite their differences in style, most Sheriffs have certain roles and responsibilities in common:
Law Enforcement: Most sheriff’s offices have a responsibility for law enforcement, a function that dates all the way back to the origins of the office in feudal England. Although the authority of the sheriff varies from state to state, a sheriff always has the power to make arrest. Georgia extends this authority statewide to all Sheriffs.
Court Duties: Sheriffs are responsible for maintaining the safety and security of the court. A sheriff or deputy may be required to attend all court sessions; to act as bailiff; to take charge of juries whenever they are outside the courtroom; to serve court papers such as subpoenas, summonses, warrants, writs, or civil process; or, to perform other court related functions.
Jail Administration: Most sheriffs’ offices maintain and operate county jails. They are responsible for supervising inmates and protecting their rights. They are also responsible for providing inmates with food, clothing, exercise, and medical services. This responsibility has become more difficult as old jails begin to deteriorate and become overcrowded. The mid-1970s brought on an explosion of lawsuits filed by inmates to protect their conditions of confinement. However, in recent years national and state accreditations, along with the courts, have been working together with local authorities to provide more appropriate custodial care for offenders.
The importance of the modern sheriff was stressed by President Ronald Reagan in his address to the National Sheriffs’ Association on June 21, 1984. He said, “Thank you for standing up for this nation’s dream of personal freedom under the rule of law. Thank you for standing against those who would transform that dream into a nightmare of wrongdoing and lawlessness. And thank you for your service to your communities, to your country, and to the cause of the law and justice.”
Habersham County Sheriff’s Office is here to serve and protect the residents of Habersham. Please feel free to call if you have any questions or concerns. We are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Thank you for visiting our web page.
Material for this page was excerpted from "Office of the Sheriff - History" at www.GeorgiaSheriffs.org the official website of the Georgia Sheriff's Association.
Contact InformationMailing Address: 1000 Detention Drive Clarkesville, GA 30523
Location: 1000 Detention Drive Clarkesville, GA 30523
Phone: 706-839-0500 Fax: 706-754-1932
Joey Terrell, Sheriff