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Brazoria County Sheriff's Office

    

Civil Process FAQ:
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The Brazoria County Sheriff's Office is responsible for serving civil process (suits, writs, hearing notices, etc.) as required under Texas law. The sheriffs and constables of all 254 Texas counties share the burden of seeing that all civil papers issued to them by the clerks of their respective courts are served "promptly and efficiently".

HOW CAN I AVOID BEING SERVED WITH CIVIL PAPERS?
The easiest way is to pay all bills when they come due and avoid becoming involved in a traffic accident or a divorce. Suits processed through the Brazoria County District Court include suits for nonpayment of debts, divorce, child support, property disputes and suits arising from automobile accidents, to name a few. Many people are sued because they enter into sales agreements for a major purchase such as an automobile, then find themselves unable to keep up the payments. Then they decide to "let it go back", thinking that absolves them of the responsibility of completing the payment contract. WRONG!! When a vehicle is repossessed (voluntarily or forcibly), it is sold at public auction as a used vehicle, often selling for MUCH less than what is owed against it. The money from the auction is deducted from the original contract amount, then the original contract holder is sued for the difference.

SO WHAT?
If you are sued and a judgment is issued against you, then it becomes the responsibility of the sheriff or constable to collect the money owed. That may be accomplished any of several ways. If you own business property, including vehicles used in business, or any other non-exempt property (homesteads are exempt under Texas law), the sheriff or constable may be required to seize and sell such non-exempt property as required to pay the debt.

WHAT IF I DODGE THE PROCESS SERVER?
That's easier said than done. The sheriff or constable has several acceptable methods of service which may be used (with the approval of the court). You might be able to postpone service for a short time, but all you accomplish is putting more wear and tear on county vehicles trying to track you down, thus adding to the tax burden on everyone.

TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER VS. PROTECTIVE ORDER...WHICH DO I NEED?
For years the only legal recourse for the battered, abused or harassed was the good old "Restraining Order". The TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (T.R.O.) is nothing more than a paper which is prepared by an attorney at your expense which tells the abuser to stop doing whatever he/she is doing to offend you. This order carries NO provision for immediate enforcement by police. Therefore if the offender violates the order, your only recourse is to go back to your attorney and ask him/her to request a contempt of court citation, which the judge may or may not grant after a hearing. Inadequate as it may seem, this order may be your only choice if the offender is not related to you or has not committed any criminal offense against you.
The PROTECTIVE ORDER, on the other hand, is intended to protect family members from abuse by other family members, and it can be effective for up to one year from the date of issue. If the abuser has assaulted you or any family member (or anyone living under the same roof in a family environment), you may be eligible for a Protective Order, which DOES carry a provision for immediate arrest of the violator. If you have been assaulted by someone WHO HAS EVER lived under the same roof with you, contact police, a battered spouse shelter or your District Attorney for information on filing for a Protective Order.
If you are a victim of an act of family violence, you may request an Emergency Protective Order while the abuser is in jail for the act of violence against you.  The Magistrate may issue an Emergency Protective Order that will be good for up to 61 days or up to 91 days if a weapon was involved in the act of violence.  An Emergency Protective Order cannot be extended beyond the maximum lengths allowed by law. (CCP 17.292) However, you may still seek a protective order with longer terms from a court of proper jurisdiction.  There is information about protective orders on the Texas Attorney Generalís website.  If you are unsure of how to proceed to obtain a protective order, you may want to seek legal aid or consult with an attorney.

WHAT'S A SUBPOENA?
A subpoena is a command for you to appear in court, usually as a witness. The name "subpoena" means "under penalty", and thereby hangs a tale. If you receive a subpoena to appear on a certain date and you fail to appear, you can expect to be arrested and placed in jail until such time as the judge finds it convenient for you to present the testimony that you were subpoenaed to give. This may not always be the case, but it certainly is a strong possibility, especially in criminal trials.

WHY DO I HAVE TO "SHOW CAUSE"?
A show cause order is similar to a subpoena, except that in this case you are the defendant rather than a witness. If it's a criminal trial and you receive a "Notice to Show Cause", your failure to appear will result in a lengthy visit in jail. If it's a civil trial and you ignore the judge's order to appear, the judge will find in favor of the plaintiff, meaning that you lose the case automatically.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE AN ANSWER WITH THE COURT ON A CIVIL CITATION?
As stated on the citation, you (or your attorney) must file a WRITTEN answer with the clerk of the court no later than Monday next following twenty days after receiving the citation. WHAAAAT!? Essentially, it means no later than 3 weeks from next Monday. If it's a citation from a Justice of the Peace Court, it's usually ten days instead of twenty. READ THE CITATION. If in doubt, contact an attorney.

 

 

 

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