In principle, a sheriff is a legal official with responsibility for a "shire", i.e. county. In practice, the specific combination of legal, political and ceremonial duties of a sheriff varies greatly from country to country.
- In Scotland, sheriffs are judges.<ref>http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/36/0/Sheriffs</ref>
- A sheriff (or High sheriff) is a ceremonial county or city official in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and India.
- In the United States of America, the duties of a sheriff vary across states and counties. A sheriff is generally an elected county official, and the duties of the sheriff's department generally include policing rural areas, maintaining county jails, and (in some states) serving warrants and court papers.
- In the Republic of Ireland, sheriffs are legal officials similar to bailiffs in some counties and in the cities of Dublin and Cork.
- In Australia and South Africa sheriffs are legal officials similar to bailiffs. In these countries there is no link maintained between counties and sheriffs.
- In Canada, sheriffs exist in most provinces. The provincial sheriff services generally manage and transport court prisoners, serve court orders, and in some provinces sheriffs provide security for the court system, protect public officials, support investigations by local police services and in Alberta, sheriffs carry out traffic enforcement.
In British English, the political or legal office of a sheriff, term of office of a sheriff, or jurisdiction of a sheriff, is called a shrievalty.<ref>http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shrievalty</ref>
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