constable


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Constable

An official of a Municipal Corporation whose primary duties are to protect and preserve the peace of the community.

In medieval law, a constable was a high functionary under the French and English kings. The importance and dignity of this position was second only to that of the monarch. The constable led the royal armies and was cognizant of all military matters, exercising both civil and military jurisdiction. It was also his duty to conserve the peace of the nation.

In English Law, a constable was a public civil officer whose general duty was to maintain the peace within his district, although he was frequently charged with additional obligations. "High," "petty," and "special" constables formerly existed. The police have assumed the functions of constables.

State constitutions and laws in the United States generally establish prerequisites for holding the office of constable. In most instances, a constable must be a U.S. citizen, a qualified voter, and a resident in the area of his or her jurisdiction.

The term of office and removal therefrom are usually governed by state constitutions and laws. A basis for removal may reside in neglect of duty.

A constable-elect is generally required to post a bond as security for faithful performance of the duties and obligations of the office. The bond protects those individuals who might otherwise be harmed by any possible neglect of duty.

A constable has the status of peace officer, a person designated by public authority to maintain the peace and arrest persons guilty or suspected of crime. The constable must yield to the superior authority of a sheriff, the chief executive and administrative officer of a county, where a conflict exists concerning jurisdiction.

Service of process—the delivering of a summons which informs a person that he or she is a defendant in a lawsuit—is an important function of a constable. State laws confer the power to serve process. The constable executes the process of magistrates' court and of some other tribunals. The courts do not instruct constables on the manner of serving process. The constable should exercise due diligence to make the service but is not obligated to exert every conceivable effort.

Attachment—the seizure of a debtor's property pursuant to court order—is another function of a constable. It is the constable's duty to assume custody of and carefully preserve the property to be seized. In most instances, the constable is expected to sell the property and collect and distribute the sale proceeds.

Miscellaneous duties assigned to constables by local or state law include the custody of juries, attendance at criminal court sessions, and the service of writs—court orders requiring the performance of a specified act or giving authority to have it done. The powers and duties of constables have, however, been replaced by sheriffs in many jurisdictions.

constable

n. a law officer for a particular area such as a rural township, much like a sheriff (who serves a county) and usually elected, who is responsible for such duties as serving summons, complaints, subpenas, and court orders, assisting the local court, as well as "keeping the peace." In England this was an exalted position as law enforcement chief for an extensive area, but in the United States the office of constable is a dying breed, like Justice of the Peace. (See: sheriff)

See: peace officer

constable

1 a person who has undertaken to serve the Crown as an officer of the peace. Now in the UK, a police officer.
2 an elected position, similar to mayor, in the parishes of the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, bringing with it the right to a seat in the local legislative assembly.

CONSTABLE. An officer, who is generally elected by the people.
     2. He possess power, virture officii, as a conservator of the peace at common law, and by virtue of various legislative enactments; he. way therefore apprehend a supposed offender without a warrant, as treason, felony, breach of the peace, and for some misdemeanors less than felony, when committed in his view. 1 Hale, 587; 1 East, P. C. 303 8 Serg. & Rawle, 47. He may also arrest a supposed offender upon the information of others but he does so at his peril, unless he can show that a felony has been committed by some person, as well as the reasonableness of the suspicion that the party arrested is guilty. 1 Chit. Cr. L. 27; 6 Binn. R. 316; 2 Hale, 91, 92 1 East, P. C. 301. He has power to call others to his assistance; or he may appoint a deputy to do ministerial acts. 3 Burr. Rep. 1262.
     3. A constable is also a ministerial officer, bound to obey the warrants and precepts of justices, coroners, and sheriffs. Constables are also in some states bound to execute the warrants and process of justices of the peace in civil cases.
     4. In England, they have many officers, with more or less power, who bear the name of constables; as, lord high constable of England, high constable 3 Burr. 1262 head constables, petty constables, constables of castles, constables of the tower, constables of the fees, constable of the exchequer, constable of the staple, &c.
     5. In some of the cities of the United States there are officers who are called high constables, who are the principal police officers where they reside. Vide the various Digests of American Law, h.t.; 1 Chit. Cr. L. 20; 5 Vin. Ab. 427; 2 Phil. Ev. 253 2 Sell. Pr. 70; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 79; Id. D 7; Id, Officer, E 2; Wille. Off. Const.

References in classic literature ?
He told me there was no occasion to go before the justice now, I was at liberty to go where I pleased; and so, calling to the constable, told him he might let me go, for I was discharged.
'tis a mistake, sir; I must carry her before a justice now, whether you think well of it or not.' The mercer was very high with the constable at first; but the constable happening to be not a hired officer, but a good, substantial kind of man
Kit made an involuntary start towards the door in his anxiety to answer for himself, but being speedily detained by the constable, had the agony of seeing Sampson Brass run out alone to tell the story in his own way.
The constable, who had been chewing a straw all this while with great philosophy, replied that if they went away at once they would have time enough, but that if they stood shilly-shallying there, any longer, they must go straight to the Mansion House; and finally expressed his opinion that that was where it was, and that was all about it.
Then he flashed forth his bright sword and leaped upon Will Stutely, thinking he would take him unaware; but Stutely had his own sword tightly held in his hand, beneath his robe, so he drew it forth before the constable came upon him.
Thus communing within himself, he called his constables together and told them what was in his mind.
Suiting action to the word, Billy let out an explosive "BOO!" and Saxon giggled involuntarily at the startle it caused in the constable.
"My instructions don't go to that," replies the constable. "My instructions are that this boy is to move on."
Giles looked doubtfully at Brittles; the constable put his hand behind his ear, to catch the reply; the two women and the tinker leaned forward to listen; the doctor glanced keenly round; when a ring was heard at the gate, and at the same moment, the sound of wheels.
If you believe the witnesses, in their construction of the acts of the prisoner, it is your duty to convict him; but if you believe that the old man, who this day appears before you, meant not to harm the constable, but was acting more under the influence of habit than by the instigations of malice, it will be your duty to judge him, but to do it with lenity”
"The truth of the statement touched me in the pit of the stomach(you know that's the spot where emotion gets home on a man) for it was borne upon me that really and truly I was nothing but a second officer of a ship just like any other second officer, to that constable. I was moved by this solid evidence of my new dignity.
"Had to in one place," said the stolid constable. "I sent a keeper to fetch a spade.