Civil / Writs

P5 (279)

Complainants filing court instruments can expedite service if they remember to leave a daytime and nighttime phone where they may be reached.  Always retain your case number and use it for every inquiry after filing with the courts.  Deputies do not investigate your case however they need accurate, recent and reliable information about each case in order to give the best service possible.

Additionally, the Civil Division is responsible for providing bailiffs for the Justice of the Peace courts within Precinct 5.

 

The Constable’s Office is the only law enforcement agency responsible for civil processes within Harris County.

This is not to say that all civil processes go through the Constable’s Office, some of them are handled by private process agents and complainants themselves. The Civil Division of Precinct 5 consists of commissioned Peace Officers and civilian clerks whose responsibilities include receiving, recording, serving, and returning legal documents to the courts from which they originated.

The officer’s written return on each document notifies the court that the order or notice has been served. Currently, the Civil Division handles approximately 4,700 court papers each month.  These include civil processes ranging from divorce papers to law suits and protective orders. Typically, a Deputy will make a minimum of three attempts to serve a paper, unless it is determined that the address is bad.

Where the Civil Division processes court orders, the Writ Division enforces the court’s decisions regarding those orders.  The most common of these decisions is in the form of a "writ of execution".  This commands the Constable to collect the court's judgment through money and/or seizures of property, and the subsequent sale of this property to satisfy a judgment.

When inquiring about the status of your case, please remember that in most instances this will require speaking directly with the deputy assigned to your case.  As they are often in the field, be prepared to provide the clerk assisting you with your case number and a reliable daytime contact number so that the deputy can call you back as soon as possible.

 

civil

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a friend or family member who has been living with me.  I want them out and they refuse to leave, what can I do?  In order to start the eviction process, you must give them a written 3 day notice to vacate.  You can serve it by personally handing them the notice or placing the notice inside the premises where they will see it.  If, after the expiration of the notice, the person hasn’t vacated the premises, you’ll need to file for an eviction in the Justice Court in the precinct where the residence is located.  The Justice Court will issue an Eviction Citation and forward it to the Constable’s Office for service.  The Eviction Citation directs the tenant to appear in court on a specific date for the eviction hearing.   Both parties must be present at that hearing in order to give testimony to the judge.

My ex-spouse refuses to abide by our divorce decree and has denied me visitation of my children.  What can I do?  If there is a court ordered child possession decree, then you’ll need to file a motion with the same court that issued that decree.  You don’t need to file a police report to document the non-compliance.  This is a civil matter, not criminal.  Your motion and sworn statement will let the judge know that the other party is not obeying the court order.  The judge may then issue an order commanding the other party to appear in court and show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt.  The judge may also issue an order commanding the Constable’s Office to take custody of the children and deliver them to you.  This is called a Writ of Child Attachment.

I need to retrieve some personal items from a location but I’m expecting a confrontation.  Can I get a police officer to go with me for my safety?  This is commonly referred to as a “civil stand by”, but our deputies will not assist anyone in the recovery of property without a court order directing us to do so.  If another party is refusing to return your property, you can ask the Justice Court for an Order of Retrieval.  This is an order issued by the judge which commands the Constable’s Office to accompany you to the location and assist you in retrieving the items specifically listed in the order.

 

I’ve been locked out of my residence by my landlord.  What can I do to get back in?  You’ll need to go to the Justice Court in the precinct where the residence is located and ask the judge for a Writ of Re Entry.  This is an order issued by the judge which the Constable’s Office will serve to the landlord (or landlord’s agent) ordering them to remove the locks or otherwise allow you to enter the property.  If the landlord (or landlord’s agent) disobeys the writ and refuses to let you back in, you’ll need to go back to the Justice Court and let the judge know they did not obey the order.  The judge may find them in contempt and subsequently issue further command to the Constable’s Office to enforce the order.

How do I collect a debt owed to me?  Debts can be collected by filing a lawsuit with the court having proper jurisdiction. Once a judgment is made in a party’s favor, that party can collect through a writ of execution.

A writ of execution is an order commanding the Constable to collect a debt owed. This can be done through payment of the judgment or "Levy" (seizure of non-exempt assets) to be sold at public auction to satisfy the judgment.

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