Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1974 NO. 2 >

A district court commissioner, when appointed and vested with the powers of a justice of the peace under chapter 3.42 RCW, comes within the definition of a "magistrate" as set forth in RCW 2.20.010 and 2.20.020.

AGO 1959 NO. 47 >

(1)  For violations of the motor vehicle code which constitute gross misdemeanors, a justice of the peace can impose both fine and imprisonment. (2)  A person previously convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants under the provisions of a city ordinance may not be charged as a second offender under the state motor vehicle code. (3)  A justice of the peace may not impose a sentence suspended by another justice of the peace within the same county during the term of suspension.

AGO 1964 NO. 105 >

A warrant of arrest charging a misdemeanor issued by a justice court located in a county which has not adopted the provisions of chapter 299, Laws of 1961 (the justice court act) may not be executed in another county of the state.

AGO 1964 NO. 132 >

(1) A justice of the peace is not authorized to hold court outside his precinct in a county which has not adopted the 1961 justice court act. (2) The board of county commissioners of such a county may appoint a justice of the peace for a precinct which has never previously had a justice of the peace if a vacancy exists in such office. (3) A justice of the peace may be elected and qualified in a rural precinct notwithstanding the fact that it only has five registered voters.

AGO 1951 NO. 134 >

A justice of the peace has jurisdiction only as a committing magistrate or crimes requiring as punishment both fine and imprisonment.

AGO 1960 NO. 158 >

The territorial jurisdiction of a justice of the peace in issuing warrants for violation of a traffic, liquor, game or fisheries statute is limited to the county in which he acts as justice.

AGO 1962 NO. 167 >

(1) After the county commissioners have raised the salary of a justice of the peace to $3,600 per year in cities with a population of over 5,000 under RCW 3.16.002, they can thereafter reduce said salary under certain conditions. (2 (a)) The salary of a justice of the peace may not be increased or decreased during his term of office. (2 (b) ‑ 2 (c)) The salary may be increased or decreased at any time prior to the commencement of the term notwithstanding the fact that a filing fee may have been paid on the basis of the existing salary for the office.

AGO 1951 NO. 451 >

1. The fixed salary of a justice of the peace cannot be increased without legislative enactment.  2. The constitutional prohibition against increase or diminution of salary of a justice of peace during his term of office cannot be evaded by failure of the justice of qualify until after the effective date of the law.  3. The constitutional inhibition would apply to a justice of the peace who resigned and was appointed by the county commissioners to the same office after the salary had been changed by legislation.

AGO 1951 NO. 478 >

The sentencing justice of the peace may not preclude himself in advance from granting good behavior credits.

AGO 1951 NO. 481 >

Although a county justice of the peace may, as a partner, not be criminally liable for bidding for county printing contracts, it is an unhealthy situation, and would be void as against public policy.