Justice of the Peace courts are an integral part of Scotland's criminal justice system, hearing almost a third of the criminal cases which come before courts in Scotland.
What sentences can Justices of the Peace impose?
Justices of the Peace can impose custodial sentences of up to two months, or fines of up to £2,500.
What sort of cases come before a Justice of the Peace court?
Cases which typically come up before the Justice of the Peace courts include motoring offences, breach of the peace, assault, theft and shoplifting. These offences often cause distress or aggravation to local communities. It is crucial that they are dealt with promptly and fairly.
Justice of the Peace Courts are affected by the major changes which have recently been implemented in Scotland's summary justice system. The Summary justice system, which comprises all court cases which do not involve a jury, hears 95% of the criminal cases which go through Scotland's courts (Sheriff summary courts, which have greater sentencing powers, hear the cases which are not heard in the Justice of the Peace courts). A major aim of the changes is to allow Justices of the Peace to hear some of the cases which were previously heard in the Sheriff Courts. As a result, major changes have been introduced to the training and recruitment of Justices of the Peace, and a system of appraisal is now in place.
By volunteering to act as judges in their local criminal courts, Justices of the Peace help to ensure that crimes that affect local communities are handled fairly and effectively. In doing so, they help to make those communities safer.
The Justice of the Peace Courts map shows the location of the District or Justice of the Peace Courts in Scotland and the Sheriffdom where they are located.