The role of justices of the peace

Region: Ontario Answer # 714

A justice of the peace, commonly referred to as a JP, is the judicial officer with whom the public usually has the first and often only contact. They have province-wide jurisdiction and preside over more than 90% of cases involving provincial offences, including complex environmental and industrial safety cases.


Justices of the peace have a broad range of powers. They rule on municipal by-law infractions and hear cases about minor traffic and parking infractions. They can also receive private information from members of the public who wish to lay criminal charges against another person.

They issue summonses and arrest warrants for those accused to appear before the court to defend themselves or give evidence. They preside at bail hearings and can set the terms of the release of an accused. A justice of the peace can also order a mental health assessment and issue child apprehension warrants.

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