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Arizona Justice of the Peace Courts

Justice of the Peace Courts are limited jurisdiction trial courts for the state. Each county is divided into precincts, and that county’s justices of the peace preside over cases in their county. Typically, precincts are larger than just one town and often include pieces from neighboring cities or adjoining communities. Justices of the peace serve four-year terms as judges, and most have at least one clerk to help with the work. Some also have a court administrator, usually in larger districts. To be elected as a Justice Court judge, a person must be an Arizona resident, over the age of 18, they must be qualified to vote in their precinct, they also must be able to read and write English, and they do not have to be an attorney.

The types of cases resolved by Justice of the Peace Courts are traffic-related cases and some criminal and civil cases. These courts can issue search warrants as well. For civil cases, Justice Courts can only hear cases with claims of $10,000 or less. With landlord/tenant disputes of between $5,000 - $10,000, Justice Courts share jurisdiction with the Superior Courts. They can also resolve matters of possession of real property below $10,000. Justice Courts often hold preliminary hearings for felony cases, and they have criminal jurisdiction over petty misdemeanors. They usually handle domestic abuse cases, breaches of the peace, assault or battery and other non-serious offense cases.

Most Justice Court precincts also have an elected constable. These elected officials serve official court documents as dictated by the court.

For the last year tallied, Justice Courts totaled 726,870 cases. Of those, 124,859 were criminal cases, 202,516 were civil cases, and 399,017 were for traffic violations, and the remaining 478 were for other legal matters.

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