Justices of the Peace

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In the 1876 Constitution of the State of Texas, Article Five, Section One, the office of Justice of the Peace was established as a court with judicial power.

Today, in the Constitution of the State of Texas, Section Nineteen, Article Five, provides:

  • Exclusive civil jurisdiction in matters of $200 or less controversy
  • Justice of Peace Courts have original jurisdiction in criminal misdemeanors punishable by fine only
  • Justices of the Peace shall be ex-officio notaries public
  • Such other jurisdiction as provided by law

Civil Jurisdiction is further defined in Section 27.031, Texas Government Code. In addition to the jurisdiction and powers provided by the Constitution and other law, the justice court has original jurisdiction of:

  • Cases of forcible entry and detainer (Eviction)
  • Civil matters in which exclusive jurisdiction is not in the district or county court and in which the amount in controversy is not more than $20,000, exclusive of interest
  • Foreclosure of mortgages and enforcement of liens on personal property in cases in which the amount in controversy is otherwise within the justice court's jurisdiction


Additionally, Article 2.09 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure defines "magistrates" to include the Justice of the Peace. Duties of a magistrate in Article 2.10 of the Code are:

  • To cause the arrest of offenders by the use of lawful means that they may be brought to punishment
  • To issue all process intended to aid in preventing and suppressing crime
  • To preserve the peace within his jurisdiction by the use of all lawful means