Sheriff Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Sheriff, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Sheriff?

(n) A Sheriff is the law enforcing officer appointed with the responsibility of providing protection and policing the jail, courts, civil activity etc

History and Meaning of Sheriff

The term "sheriff" originated in England during the early Middle Ages. The word "shire-reeve" was used to describe a royal official responsible for enforcing the law in a particular shire or county. Eventually, the term was shortened to "sheriff." When colonists from England came to America, they brought the concept of the sheriff with them.

In the modern United States, a sheriff is an elected official who serves as the chief law enforcement officer of a county. Sheriffs have a wide variety of responsibilities, including patrolling communities, investigating crimes, serving warrants and court orders, and managing jails.

Examples of Sheriff

  1. The sheriff's office is investigating a rash of burglaries in the area.
  2. The sheriff's department is responsible for transporting prisoners to and from court.
  3. The sheriff's deputy pulled over a speeding motorist on the highway.
  4. The sheriff's office conducted a search of the suspect's home with a warrant.
  5. The sheriff's department issued a warning to residents about a recent increase in car thefts.

Legal Terms Similar to Sheriff

  1. Marshal - A law enforcement officer who is responsible for serving legal documents, providing courthouse security, and apprehending fugitives.
  2. Constable - An elected or appointed official who is responsible for enforcing the law in a particular geographic area, often a smaller jurisdiction than a sheriff's department.
  3. Police Chief - The head of a police department who is responsible for enforcing the law and managing police officers within a particular community.