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What do Judges and Justices of the Peace do?

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Judges are appointed by the provincial government

Have been lawyers for at least 10 years.

Hear criminal, youth and family trials, and sometimes provincial offences matters, without a jury. The judge is responsible for both the weighing of the evidence and the final decision.

In criminal cases, it is up to the judge to decide if the defendant is not guilty or guilty. If a defendant is convicted in a criminal case, the judge imposes sentence.

In family court, the judge hears family and child protection disputes.

Justices of the Peace

Justices of the peace are appointed by the provincial government

Do not have to be lawyers

Generally have 10 years of paid or volunteer work experience and a university degree or college diploma. For specifics, please see the Justices of the Peace Act.

A justice of the peace is often the first and sometimes the only judicial officer that a member of the public will ever meet in connection with, for example, a parking ticket, a Highway Traffic Act offence, charges alleging a violation of a by-law such as a smoking by-law or a liquor licence by-law, or  a trespassing charge.

If one is charged with a criminal offence, that individual may meet a justice of the peace in bail court and in most court appearances prior to the trial.

Justices of the peace also conduct hearings under the Mental Health Act.