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Duties of the Justices
Duties of the Office of Justice of the Peace
Administrative Hearing Officer
  • Appeals from revocation or denial of concealed handgun licenses
  • Habitual violators of traffic laws
  • Medical advisory board driver license determinations
  • Texas traffic offenders in other states with unpaid fines
  • Violators of driver license restrictions

Complaints

  • Criminal information is required for misdemeanors above fine-only level (A and B).
  • Grand jury indictment is required for a felony offense.
  • Complaints must be reduced to writing, signed by the complainant and sworn to.  
  • The written notice to appear (citation or ticket) is sufficient to place the case on the Justice of the Peace court docket until the defendant pleads not guilty, and then the sworn complaint is required to proceed to trial.

Contempt Powers Vested in the Justice Court 
  • Ensure that the business of the court is dispatched with dignity and decorum
  • Enforce the jurisdiction and orders of the court
  • Place the contemnor in the county jail without trial or appeal for a period not to exceed three days plus a fine not to exceed $100

Coroner Responsibilities

  • Complete and furnish a death certificate
  • Conduct an inquest to determine manner and cause of death of deceased persons who die unattended by medical personnel
  • For counties not served by a medical examiner, the Justice takes the responsibilities

Fail To Attend School - Truancy
 
  • Habitual violators of traffic laws
  • Medical advisory board driver license determinations
  • Texas traffic offenders in other states with unpaid fines

Jurisdiction 
  • The Justice Court has jurisdiction in misdemeanor criminal cases punishable by fine only and such other non-jail sanctions as specified by law.
  • It has the power of a court to hear and decide the outcome of a case.
  • The Justice Court has jurisdiction in civil matters where the amount in controversy is $10,000 or less (the same for the small claims court).
  • Without jurisdiction, a court cannot act and any action taken is void.

The Small Claims Court
Each justice of the peace presides over a small claims court:
  • $10,000 jurisdiction
  • Judgments for money only
  • Most rules of court do not apply
  • Simplified procedure for swift, simple disposition of matters

Venue
This is defined as the geographic place where a case may be tried (generally in the county where offense was committed).
  • Justice of Peace Court in a county of less than 225,000 population:
    • Any precinct in the county with the written consent of the State and the defendant
    • In the precinct where the offense occurred
    • In the precinct where the defendant resides in the county
  • Justice of Peace Court in a county of 225,000 population or more:
    • Only in the precinct where the offense occurred
  • Venue in civil and small claims matters more complicated, but generally is where the defendant resides

Weddings
  • The Justice of the Peace is authorized to perform weddings and charges fees for the service.
  • Fees do not go to the county or state but are personal property of the Justice of Peace.
  • Weddings may be performed on county property during business hours. 

For More Information
You can learn more about the justices online or find out how to contact a specific justice.