Texas’ Justice Courts are mandated by the Texas Constitution, and each county must have at least one and no more than eight Justice of the Peace precincts. Each precinct must have one or two Justice Courts. How many each county has depends on the population and need.
Justice Courts are limited jurisdiction courts and have original authority over Class C misdemeanors and other petty criminal issues. These courts can handle tort cases, real property cases of up to $10,000, small claims matters of up to $10,000, status offenses, traffic violations, parking tickets, and some civil issues as well. Justices of the Peace may issue search and arrest warrants, and in some counties may also serve as the medical examiner or coroner. Justice Courts have jurisdiction over small claims cases. Justice Courts can use juries but also have bench trials.
Most cases in Justice Courts will be self-represented. Therefore, the Texas Judicial Branch website will be useful to those litigants. The site has forms for filing cases broken down by category of the type of case. The website also offers an e-filing option to file cases and pay fines, fees and traffic tickets, along with publications, rules of the court and specialty programs to help veterans, juveniles, and people struggling with addictions to alcohol or drugs. The list of fees and other court costs is also on there, along with the judge’s information and court clerk’s contact details. These courts offer ADA accommodations and language assistance if needed.
On average, Texas’ Justice Courts see about 2.7 million cases per year. Eighty-seven percent of those cases are for traffic violations, 7% are for petty criminal issues, 4% are non-traffic related crimes, 1% are for parking tickets, 0.4% are for county ordinance violations, and 0.1% is for county traffic ordinances.