justice of the peace


justice of the peace
a local public officer, usually having jurisdiction to try and determine minor civil and criminal cases and to hold preliminary examinations of persons accused of more serious crimes, and having authority to administer oaths, solemnize marriages, etc.
[1325-75; ME]

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In Anglo-American legal systems, a local magistrate empowered chiefly to administer justice in minor cases.

In the U.S., justices of the peace are elected or appointed and hear minor civil matters and petty criminal cases. They may also officiate at weddings, issue arrest warrants, deal with traffic offenses, and hold inquests.

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law
      in Anglo-American legal systems, a local magistrate empowered chiefly to administer criminal or civil justice in minor cases. A justice of the peace may, in some jurisdictions, also administer oaths and perform marriages.

      In England and Wales a magistrate is appointed by the lord chancellor, on behalf of the crown, to keep the peace within a specific district. The duties of the modern-day justices of the peace, who preside in the magistrates' courts of England and Wales, evolved from those first bestowed upon them under the Justice of the Peace Act of 1361. In essence, the justices continue to deal mostly with minor criminal matters and continue to send more serious cases to a higher court for disposition—since 1971, to the Crown Court or any of the courts that make up the High Court of Justice (q.v.).

      The modern justice of the peace in England and Wales, as formerly, is usually a lay person. But each appointee now undergoes a training course in basic law and in the administrative duties of the magistrates' court. On matters of law, advice is provided by a clerk to the justice. Lay magistrates must number at least two to hear a case. Paid, full-time magistrates may hear cases alone. In some less serious criminal matters, a justice of the peace may sit with a judge of the Crown Court.

      In England and Wales there are some 28,500 justices of the peace, one-third of whom are women. The rising case load of juvenile matters now takes a larger proportion of magistrates' court time. The justices who hear these cases, or rule on the care of children, also take special courses in juvenile law.

      In Australia the main function of the justice of the peace is to authenticate the execution of documents.

      In the United States, justices of the peace are elected or appointed and sit on the lowest of the state courts hearing minor civil matters and petty criminal cases, usually misdemeanors. They officiate at weddings, issue arrest warrants, deal with traffic offenses, and hold inquests.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Justice of the peace — Justice Jus tice (j[u^]s t[i^]s), n. [F., fr. L. justitia, fr. justus just. See {Just}, a.] [1913 Webster] 1. The quality of being just; conformity to the principles of righteousness and rectitude in all things; strict performance of moral… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • justice of the peace — ˌjustice of the ˈpeace abbreviation JP noun justices of the peace PLURALFORM [countable] LAW a magistrate (= type of judge) in Britain and in some US states who judges less serious cases in lower law courts: • …   Financial and business terms

  • Justice of the peace — Peace Peace, n. [OE. pees, pais, OF. pais, paiz, pes, F. paix, L. pax, pacis, akin to pacere, paciscere, pacisci, to make an agreement, and prob. also pangere to fasten. Cf. {Appease}, {Fair}, a., {Fay}, v., {Fang}, {Pacify}, {Pact}, {Pay} to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Justice of the Peace — (engl., spr. dschößtĭß ŏf thĕ pihß), Friedensrichter (s. Friedensrichte) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Justice of the Peace — n JP someone who judges less serious cases in small law courts and, in the US, can perform marriage ceremonies …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Justice of the Peace — noun count a government official similar to a judge who works in the lower courts and can perform marriage ceremonies: MAGISTRATE …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Justice of the Peace — ► NOUN ▪ (in the UK) a lay magistrate appointed to hear minor cases, grant licences, etc., in a town or county …   English terms dictionary

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  • justice of the peace — n. in some states, a magistrate with jurisdiction over a small district, authorized to decide minor cases, commit persons to trial in a higher court, perform marriages, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Justice of the Peace — A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a puisne judicial officer appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice and deal with local administrative applications in common law… …   Wikipedia


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