A justice of the peace is an elected official that serves to perform marriage ceremonies and preside over small civil and some criminal matters in their county. The justice of the peace:
- Hears and makes decisions on truancy cases
- Hears and resolves disputes between landlords and their tenants
- Hears and makes decisions in civil cases that have a monetary amount of $10,000 or less.
- Perform the duties of a magistrate
- They hear and decide on traffic and Class C misdemeanor cases that are only punishable by a fine
- They have the right to conduct inquests
How to Become a Justice of the Peace in Texas
To become a justice of the peace in the State of Texas you will have to be elected by the voters in your voting district. This means that you will have to go to the courthouse and get your name on the ballot for your county. It also means that you will have to campaign with traditional campaign strategies like going out to meet the voters and having campaign signs to post throughout your county.
Appoint a Campaign Treasurer
In the state of Texas, you cannot receive campaign funds unless you have a campaign treasurer to make sure the funds are spent according to the laws of the state. The county clerk in your precinct has the forms for you to fill out to name a campaign treasurer.
Educational Qualifications for Justice of the Peace
There are no current educational minimums to meet in order to run for justice of the peace. It is beneficial if you have some background in law enforcement or a criminal justice degree, but there are no mandatory degrees.
The justice of the peace will attend 80 hours of training once they are elected. These 80 hours of education must be completed during the first year they are in office, and after that first year, they will attend an additional 20 hour school for further training each year.
Eligibility Requirements to become a Justice of the Peace
- You have to be 18 years old or older
- You cannot have any felony convictions
- You must be a legal citizen of the United States
- You must have lived in the district you are running for office in for no less than six months
- You must have lived in the state of Texas for no less than 12 months
- You must be mentally competent
A Letter of Recommendation
You do not have to have a letter of recommendation in order to become a justice of the peace, but having a letter of recommendation from local officials can help the voters to have confidence that you are capable of executing the duties of the office in the proper manner.
A letter of recommendation should explain how long the person has known you and why they think you are right for the office of justice of the peace. These letters should be written by officials like judges, sheriffs, and other upstanding citizens that the voters trust.