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Justice of Peace Courts
Under Article V, § 18 of the Texas Constitution, each county must establish at least one, but no more than eight justice of the peace precincts in a county. The number of justice of the peace precincts in Tarrant County is determined by the population of the county. Tarrant County has eight precincts, each served by a Justice of the Peace (JP) including:
- Arlington (Pct. 2);
- Southlake (Pct. 3);
- Lake Worth (Pct. 4);
- Mansfield (Pct. 7); and
- Fort Worth (Pcts. 1, 5, 6, 8).
The Justice of the Peace Courts in Tarrant County are known as the "People’s Court." Tarrant County is home to eight Justice Courts in Tarrant County. These courts handle traffic and other Class C misdemeanor cases punishable by a fine or other sanction not requiring confinement or imprisonment.
Each Justice Court Judge also serves as an Administrative Hearing Judge that presides over hearings pertaining to suspension of driver licenses. In this capacity, the justice of the peace courts have jurisdiction to hold hearings to determine if driver’s license should be revoked or suspended and report the findings to the Texas Department of Public Safety as required by Sec. 521.291 et seq.
A variety of civil process, as well as arrest and search warrants, can be issued by the justice of the peace. The Justice of the Peace may issue warrants for arrest for a criminal offense committed in his or her presence.
Although the Justice of the Peace Court is not a court of record, the defendant may tape record the proceedings or use a court reporter to preserve the record. In these proceedings, a defendant may request a jury trial with six jurors. If convicted, the penalty is limited to a monetary fine. A conviction can be appealed to a county court at law which is often called the "trial de novo."
Eligibility Requirements to Hold the Office of Justice of the Peace
To be eligible to hold the office of justice of the peace, a person must:
- be a citizen of the United States;
- be at least 18 years of age on the day the term starts or on the date of appointment;
- not have been determined mentally incompetent by a final judgment of a court;
- not have been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities;
- as a general rule, have resided continually in Texas for one year and in the precinct for the preceding six months; and
- must not have been declared ineligible for the office.
An individual is also disqualified from holding the office of justice of the peace if convicted of having given or offered a bribe to procure election or appointment.
Justices are required to complete an 80-hour course in the performance of their duties within one year of being elected and a 20-hour course each succeeding year. The courses may be completed in an accredited state-supported school of higher education.
Failure to complete the required courses could result in removal of the justice from office. Justices receive certification through the Texas Justice Court Training Center at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.
Class C Misdemeanors in Justice of the Peace Courts in Tarrant County, TX
A criminal offense charged as a Class C misdemeanors in Texas is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Texas law does not allow the imposition of jail time for a class C misdemeanor. Any misdemeanor that is not designated as Class A, B, or C misdemeanor and has no specified punishment is classified as a class C misdemeanor by default. (Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 12.03, 12.23.)
One example of a Class C misdemeanor is the theft of property worth less than $50.
Justice of the Peace Courts in Tarrant County, TX - Visit the website of Tarrant County to learn more about the eight justice of the peace courts located in Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst, Southlake, Lakeworth, and Mansfield, Texas.
2016 Guide to Texas Laws for County Officials - Find information about the duties of a justice of the peace and other county officials in this guide to Texas Law for County Officials.
Manual on Justice Court Procedures - The manual is published by the Justice Court Training Center at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, to explain the procedures in the Justice of the Peace Courts.
Attorneys for the Justice of the Peace Courts in Tarrant County, TX
The attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represent clients at the Justice of the Peace courts in Arlington, Southlake, Lake Worth, Mansfield, and Fort Worth.
If you were charged with a Class C misdemeanor or an administrative suspension hearing to protect your driver's license after a DWI arrest, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX.
Call Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.