Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Justice of the Peace Definition:

A judicial officer with a limited role, usually in criminal law, to perform minor judicial tasks such as authorizing search warrants and approving criminal charges.

Persons appointed by the state to perform minor but nonetheless judicial functions.

A office with a rich common law history empowered to arrest or order the arrest of felons, and perform administrative functions in both criminal law and civil law.

The most important criminal function is to act as a vetting agency in regards to proposed search warrants or criminal charges brought forward by peace officers or law enforcement in regards to alleged crimina conduct on the part of citizens of the state.

Some jurisdictions defer traffic violations, such as parking tickets, or the authority to perform marriages, to justices of the peace.

In some but not all jurisdictions, the offices and powers of justices of the peace are being gradually phased-out and transferred to the regular courts.

Those jurisdictions that defer extensively to the office of justice of the peace generally limit the jurisdiction within an enabling statute. For example, as of 2009, justices of the peace appointed in the Canadian Province of Alberta had these statutory powers:

"... receiving an information or complaint or receiving an information or complaint from another justice of the peace and granting a summons or warrant on it;

"...issuing a subpoena, summons or warrant to compel the attendance of any witnesses for either party; (and)

"... doing all other acts and matters necessary preliminary to a hearing...."

French: juge de paix .

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