In principle, a sheriff is a legal official with responsibility for a county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political, and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country.
The word "sheriff" is a contraction of the term "shire reeve". The term, from the Old English scīrgerefa, designated a royal official responsible for keeping the peace (a "reeve") throughout a shire or county on behalf of the king. The term was preserved in England notwithstanding the Norman Conquest. From the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms the term spread to several other regions, at an early point to Scotland, latterly to Ireland, and to the United States.
Sheriffs exist in various countries:
- Sheriffs are administrative legal officials similar to bailiffs in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, and Canada (with expanded duties in certain provinces).
- Sheriffs are judges in Scotland.
- Sheriff is a ceremonial position in England, Wales, and India.
- In the United States of America, the scope of a sheriff varies across states and counties. The sheriff is always a county official, and serves as the arm of the county court. In urban areas a sheriff may be restricted to court duties such as administering the county jail, providing courtroom security and prisoner transport, serving warrants, and serving process. Sheriffs and their deputies may serve as the principal police force.
In British English, the political or legal office of a sheriff is called a shrievalty.
Famous quotes containing the word sheriff:
“The mans an M.D., like you. Hes entitled to his opinion. Or do you want me to charge him with confusing a country doctor?”
—Robert M. Fresco. Jack Arnold. Sheriff Jack Andrews (Nestor Paiva)