How is a Magistrate Useful to a Citizen?

While a magistrate's daily interactions consist of mostly law enforcement and regional jail officers, private citizens can also use the magistrate for a variety of reasons, mainly the following:

  • To issue a warrant for the arrest of another person
    • This is common in situations where a law enforcement officer is not present at the time of the offense. For example, if your neighbor has trespassed on your property but left before law enforcement can arrive on scene, you can still have them charged criminally by going before the magistrate and swearing under oath to the facts at hand.
  • To issue an Emergency Protective Order
    • If someone has made you fearful of death or great bodily harm, one of the ways you can protect yourself from that person is by obtaining a protective order against them. A magistrate can issue an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), which is valid for 72 hours, in emergency situations or outside the normal business hours of the courthouse.
  • To issue an Emergency Custody Order
    • An Emergency Custody Order (ECO) is an order issued by a magistrate that allows law enforcement to take custody of an individual who is a danger to themselves or someone else due to a mental illness. If, for example, you have a family member who is experiencing suicidal thoughts but refuses to get help, an ECO can be issued by a magistrate allowing the Sheriff's Office to take them to the hospital and receive treatment.

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1. What is a Magistrate?
2. How is a Magistrate Useful to a Citizen?