What is a Justice of the Peace?
A Justice of the Peace is the authority in charge of preventing and punishing behaviors and acts that alter peace and peaceful coexistence in the community.
What matters are handled by a Panamanian Justice of the Peace?
- Disturbance of peaceful coexistence, provided that it does not violate the right of citizens to peaceful protest.
- Acts against the integrity and security of people, as long as they do not constitute a crime.
- Brawls or fights
- Burning of trash that affects neighbors and the community
- Provocations or threats
- Unpleasant noises and nuisances
- Nuisance and damage caused by domestic animals or loose animals
- Obstruction of public roads
- Disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of the property
- Acts contrary to morality and good manners
- Destruction of parks, gardens, walls, or any other damage to the property of others
- Alterations to facades of apartment units or infringement of the provisions of the Horizontal Property Law of Panama
- Flying a Panamanian Flag that is in poor condition or improper use of the National Flag of Panama
- Carrying out parties or activities of public amusement without a permit
- Verbal aggressions that disturb the peaceful coexistence of the community.
- Cases of fraud involving a total amount of less than one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000.00), provided that this conduct is not considered as an aggravated crime by the relevant legislation, in which case it will be brought to the attention of the competent authorities, such as the prosecutor’s office or Public Ministry of Panama.
- Physical aggresion in which the period of incapacity is less than thirty (30) days
- Misappropriation of another’s movable property, without the use of violence, provided that the amount does not exceed the sum of one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000.00) and that this conduct is not classified as an aggravated offense by the pertinent legislation, in which case it shall be brought to the attention of the corresponding authorities.
- Unlawful acts and misappropriation, established in the Penal Code of Panama, if the amount does not exceed the sum of one thousand US dollars (USD 1,000.00), provided that this act or conduct is not defined as an aggravated crime by the corresponding legislation, in which case it shall be brought to the attention of the competent authorities.
- Violation of municipal regulations
Justices of the Peace may also hear civil disputes in the Republic of Panama. A justice of the peace is usually a qualified attorney, however, it is not mandatory to be licensed as an attorney to be a justice of the peace in Panama. Certainly, justices of the peace receive special training to be able to perform their duties. Only Panamanian citizens can be justices of the peace in Panama.
It is important to note that a justice of the peace can provisionally order the following measures:
- Restraining order
- Order the temporary suspension of activities and works related to neighborhood conflicts.
- Evictions order
- Protection order
- Periodic appearances before the Justice of the Peace
- Temporary detention for up to 48 hours
- Seizure of firearms and suspension of gun permit or license in Panama
Panamanian Justices of the Peace may also impose the following sanctions:
- Verbal warnings
- Community service
- Peace and good behavior bonds
- Fines of up to $1,000.00 USD
- Reparation of the damage caused or compensation
Regarding domestic violence cases, the justice of the peace may:
- Order the alleged aggressor to vacate the home that he/she shares with the victim for the duration of the proceedings
- Order the alleged aggressor to wear an electronic monitoring device.
On the other hand, citizens of Panama and foreigners can request that a Justice of the Peace issue a proof of address or a certificate of good behavior. These kinds of documents can be used locally or overseas for different purposes. Also, said documents can be apostilled or legalized for use abroad.
If you need the advice of a Panamanian lawyer or a sworn translator or a professional interpreter to present your case before a Justice of the Peace in the Republic of Panama, please call us or email us.