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How to Become a Justice of the Peace in Virginia

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In 1974, the Commonwealth of Virginia changed the name of the justice of the peace to a magistrate, while essentially leaving the position the same. Magistrates are generally lay people who have the authority to take care of small court issues on the municipal level. As of 2008, magistrate positions are appointed by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Prepare your proof of citizenship and residency. You must be a citizen of the United States and resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Documents like a birth certificate, naturalization card or social security card can provide citizenship information, while a driver's license or current utility bill can provide residency information.

Obtain a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher education facility. Most colleges and universities in the United States have proper accreditation. Virginia does not require a particular field of study to become a magistrate.

Submit your fingerprints to the state, and run full national and state background checks on yourself. Most local police offices will take fingerprints and handle background checks. While a misdemeanor will not prevent you from becoming a magistrate, a felony conviction will.


Lawyers are not allowed to be magistrates in Virginia.

Those with immediate family in the judicial system or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia may not become magistrates, including police officers and those working for the sheriff's departments.