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Justice of the Peace Court Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of cases does the Justice of the Peace Court handle?

The Justice of the Peace Court handles both civil and criminal cases. Civil cases handled in the Justice of the Peace Court are those involving money debts, property damages, or return of personal property. The amount of damages which may be sought in the Justice of the Peace Court is limited to $15,000. The Justice of the Peace Court is the only court in which actions involving possession of a rental unit (including residential, commercial units and mobile homes) may be brought.

The Justice of the Peace Court hears the following types of criminal cases: designated misdemeanor cases, local ordinance violations, traffic cases, and truancy cases among others. In addition, the Justice of the Peace Court sets initial bail for cases involving more serious offenses which will later be heard in the Court of Common Pleas or the Superior Court.

How do I know where to file my claim?

If you are filing a civil claim in the Justice of the Peace Court, a list of the Justice of the Peace Civil Courts, with their addresses, hours of operation, and directions is available. If the claim you are filing involves a summary possession case, the complaint must be filed in the court nearest the rental property. For other civil cases, you will generally not be able to recover your court costs in any suit against a Delaware resident unless you bring your action in a court in the county in which the defendant resides.

Can I get a marriage license or a copy of my marriage license at a Justice of the Peace Court?

No. Marriage licenses are issued by the Clerk of the Peace in the county in which you wish to be married. You may reach the Clerk of the Peace at the following phone numbers:

New Castle County (302) 395-7780
Kent County (302) 744-2346
Sussex County (302) 855-7834
Do I need a lawyer to represent me?

You are not required to have a lawyer represent you in the Justice of the Peace Court. However, you may find a lawyer to be helpful. If you are unable to pay for a lawyer, you may be able to obtain assistance at no cost. Click here for information on finding a lawyer.

A corporation or other artificial entity or a public body, may appear in a Justice of the Peace Court without a lawyer in civil cases only if a Certificate of Representation (Civil Form 50) is filed and the other provisions of Supreme Court Rule 57 are complied with.

If I am found guilty of a traffic violation, or if I pay a voluntary assessment, how many points will I receive?

Points are assigned by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You may contact DMV for information as to the points which will be assigned for various motor vehicle violations.

Will the Court clerks help me to fill out the papers?

The Court clerks are not permitted to give legal advice so they cannot help you to fill out Court papers. However, the information on this web site is designed to help you with the process. In addition, the Court has brochures and videos to help you in filing or defending a case.

BROCHURES

Sample Civil Complaints

How to File and Defend a Summary Possession Action in the Justice of the Peace Court

Questions and Answers about the Rules of Evidence in the Justice of the Peace Court

VIDEOS

Civil Proceedings in the Justice of the Peace Court - ($2.00 - may be obtained at any Justice of the Peace Civil Court)

Summary Possession Proceedings in the Justice of the Peace Court - (free - may be obtained at any Justice of the Peace Civil Court)

Criminal Proceedings in the Justice of the Peace Court - ($2.00- may be obtained at any Justice of the Peace Criminal Court)

Can I pay a fine in a Justice of the Peace Court which is owed to the Voluntary Assessment Center or to another court?

You may pay a fine owed to the Voluntary Assessment Center in any Justice of the Peace Criminal Court (instead of mailing it directly to the Voluntary Assessment Center). However, you should be sure to bring a copy of your traffic ticket when you pay the fine. You may also pay a fine owed to any Justice of the Peace Criminal Court in any other Justice of the Peace Criminal Court. However, fines owed to other courts, such as the Court of Common Pleas, Superior Court, or Family Court may not be paid in the Justice of the Peace Court.

Can I pay my fine using a credit card?

Yes. Credit cards are accepted for fines, costs, and restitution payments (when paid directly to the Court).

Can the Court notarize paperwork?

No. You will usually need to find a notary public. You can find a list of notaries in the yellow pages of the phone book.

How can I get a witness to come to court?

If you are not sure that a witness will show up at court in a civil case, you may subpoena the witness (have the court order the person to appear at court to testify) by filing a request for a subpoena with the Court at least five days prior to the trial date. There is a $5.00 charge for each subpoena.

How do I file a criminal complaint?

If it is an emergency complaint, contact 911. Otherwise, contact the police agency which serves the area where the crime occurred.