DUTIES OF A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

The Justice of the Peace Court is a constitutional office whose origins date back to the early days of Texas statehood. Justice of the Peace courts have original jurisdiction in Class C offenses. These courts also have jurisdiction of minor civil matters. A Justice of the Peace may issue search or arrest warrants, and may serve as the coroner in counties where there is no provision for a medical examiner. The Justices are elected to a four-year term of office by the voters residing in that precinct. Additionally, Justices of the Peace are required by law to complete an 80-hour course covering the proper execution of that office's uties the first time they serve. After that, they must complete twenty hours of relevant coursework per year.

The following is a partial list of the functions that these courts oversee:

Magisterial Duties
  • Determines probable cause, issues arrest warrants, issues both adult and juvenile statutory warnings, and conducts bail examinations for arrested persons.
  • Determinies whether there is reasonable probability of a judgment being rendered against a person as a result of an accident while operating a motor vehicle without insurance.
  • Conducts reviews for sufficiency and issuance of search warrants.
  • Conducts magistrations (Miranda Rights) for both adult and juveniles.
  • Issues emergency protective orders.
  • Reviews applictions for emergency detention and issues mental health and chemical dependency warrants.
  • Conducts hearings concerning the disposition of stolen property.
  • Conducts handgun license denial hearings.
  • Conducts driver's license suspension hearings.
  • Conducts death investigations and orders autopsies.
  • As a local registrar of vital statistics, birth and death certificates are completed, registered and recorded and sent to the State Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • Conducts towing hearings.
  • Conducts review for sufficiency and issuance of warrants to seize cruelly treated animals.
  • Conducts hearings to determine disposition of animals.
  • Conducts hearings to review dangerous dog determination.
  • Serves as Ex Officio Notary Public of their counties.
Administrative Duties
  • Performs marriage ceremonies.
  • Handles and collects fees, fines and court costs.
  • Manages bank deposits.
  • Prepares report for auditor and treasurer.
  • Supervises employees.
  • Prepares correspondence to defendant and parties to litigation as required by statute.
Criminal Jurisdiction
  • Reviews and files citation issued and complaints filed by local law enforcement agencies, including constable, Sheriff, Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, etc.
  • Reviews request for driving safety courses, files complaints for failure to appear and issues warrants, conducts show cause hearings, dismisses cases, or imposes judgments.
  • Reviews documents in connection with charges of no inurance, expired driver's license, expired registration, and expired inspection.
  • Undertakes efforts to satisfy judgments, issues capias pro fines, conducts indigency hearings.
  • Collects restitution.
  • Handles failure to attend school offenses, disorderly conduct, minor in possession, and other offenses against juveniles.
  • Handles parent contributing to non-attendance of school cases.
Civil Jurisdiction
  • Files petitions instituting civil action within the jurisdiction of Justice Court.
  • Files petitions instituting proceedings to enforce deed restrictions.
  • Files petitions instituting evictions from residential and commercial properties.
  • Files petitions instituting Small Claims, Debt Claims, Evictions, and Repair Remedies civil action within the jurisdiction of Justice Court which have a maximum "amount of controversy" of $10,000.00 exclusive of interest and court cost.
  • Issues writs of possession, garnishment, attachment, sequestration and writs of reentry.
  • Presides over suits involving the enforcement of a deed restriction for a residential subdivision.