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The Justice of the Peace can hear lawsuits against individuals or companies for money damages, (up to a maximum of $10,000), suffered as a result of accidents, property damage, or breach of a contract or agreement. Justices of the Peace also hear "forcible detainer cases" - commonly referred to as "evictions". Civil cases are filed in the Justice Court in one of the following categories.
Refer to the Civil Suits page for details on each category.
Legal representation is not required to appear in Justice Court Suits. With the promulgation of the new Rules of Civil Procedure for Justice Courts, it has made it much easier for the ordinary citizen to litigate their claim without the need for an attorney. The new rules are available online or at any Justice of the Peace office.
Justice Courts have jurisdiction of:
Most frequently, cases are filed by law enforcement agencies, such as the Sheriff, the police department, the Department of Public Safety, Parks and Wildlife, and others.
Sometimes citizens desire to file a criminal complaint directly with the Justice Court. You will be required to complete a sworn affidavit and supply the names and addresses of the defendant and any witnesses. The District Attorney will have to prosecute the complaint on your behalf. You may be asked to meet with an Assistant District Attorney to determine if there has been any law broken and if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the case.
Again, it is not required that you be represented by legal counsel. However the State of Texas will be represented by the office of the Denton County District Attorney. You are certainly free to hire a lawyer to represent you in Court. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, no lawyer will be appointed for you because the offenses within the Justice Court’s jurisdiction are punishable by fine only (and not by imprisonment).