Why wasn't I called and notified
when service was made?
With the volume of papers served by
the Sheriff, it would be impossible for us to notify all
parties after service has been made. However, the plaintiff
may attach a self-addressed, stamped postcard if he wishes
to be notified after service. A sample copy of the postcard
has been provided.
I had papers issued out of Virginia Beach General
District Court and want to know if they've been served yet?
An inquiry of your computer system indicates the
Sheriff has not received any process for the individual in
question. Territorial jurisdiction is very important here.
The process will be served by the Sheriff where the person
resides, regardless of which court issued the process. Let's
say the person being served lived in Norfolk but a Virginia
Beach court issued the process, the plaintiff would call the
Norfolk Sheriff's Office to inquire about service.
Why does the deputy keep coming back to my house
when I have repeatedly told him the person he was looking
for doesn't live here?
There are a couple of reasons. If the person to be
served is a relative, we would have to go back to confirm
the relative still doesn't live there. In this day and age,
many children move back in with their parents or siblings,
so we cannot assume the relative no longer lives there.
While a deputy is assigned a specific area (zone) of the
city to serve, he or she may not necessarily work
exclusively in that zone. Deputies often cross zones to
provide timely, efficient service, especially when their
partner is off. Therefore, you may have told another deputy
that the person he is seeking doesn't live there but the
current deputy would have no knowledge of the conversation.
We very much appreciate it when the resident/occupant calls
to provide us with this information.
I heard there was a Warrant out for my arrest.
Can you tell me if this is true?
If it is a Warrant for Arrest in a criminal matter,
the police department would handle that service. The Sheriff
would serve a civil capias, usually for failure to appear in
court or obey the court's directives. In both cases, neither
the police department or the sheriff will provide this
information over the phone. If you believe there is an
outstanding warrant for your arrest, it is better to go to
the nearest police precinct and the Sheriff's Office to
I received a 72 Hour Notice to Vacate but I filed
a Motion to Rehear, so how do I make sure the Sheriff will
not come out on the date of the scheduled eviction to put my
A motion to rehear does not stop the eviction
process. There are a couple of remedies available to
tenants. Therefore, the tenant should seek the advice of an
I have received my judgment in court for the
money owed me, why haven't I received my money?
Obtaining judgment and enforcing
judgments are two different actions. While the plaintiff may
have won his case in court, it is up to the plaintiff to
pursue collection remedies. The method of collection will
vary according to each case and the assets and information
available. One method of collecting your money is through
the Writ of Fieri Facias process. We refer to this as the
levy process. The Writ of FiFa authorizes the Sheriff to
levy (inventory) property owned by the judgment debtor which
is later sold at public auction to recover the debt. This is
a time consuming and sometimes costly process. If you know
where the debtor works or where his bank account is located,
you may ask the clerk of the court where you obtained
judgment to issue a Garnishment Summons. This requires the
third party debtor (employer or lending institution) to pay
the money owed to the court who will later disburse to the
I need to have a divorce process served in
another state but it is issued out of a Virginia court. How
do I go about this?
Every Sheriff should have a directory of all
Sheriff's in the United States. You could contact your local
sheriff either by phone or by E-mail and request the address
for that jurisdiction. Or via the Internet, contact the
National Sheriffs' Association at http://www.sheriffs.org
or write to 1450 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia,
22314-3490 703/836/7827. For locating Virginia Sheriff's,
you can contact the Virginia Sheriff's Association at http://www.virginiasheriffs.org or
by writing to 701 East Franklin Street, Suite 706, Richmond,
Virginia 23219 Phone(804) 225-7152 Fax(804) 225-7162
My child support payments are taken out of my pay
check but the deputy came by with Department of Child
Support Enforcement papers. I am not behind on my child
support payments, why is DCSE serving me with papers?
From time to time DCSE updates their files. They use
the Sheriff's services for notification because it is free.
If you have questions about your payments, or notice a
discrepancy in the amount of payments, you should contact
your local DSCE office for correction.
The person I am having served with process is on
board a ship. You tell me you are unable to serve him. Why
can't you just go on board the ship or base to serve him?
This comes back to the issue of jurisdiction. The
Sheriff has authority in his territorial jurisdiction for
which he is elected by the citizens. The Sheriff has no
authority to trespass on federal property, such as bases or
ships. However, many bases have mutual agreements with the
local sheriff's offices to allow for service upon the base,
depending upon the type of process to be served. Most do not
allow for service upon the ship which is governed by the
U.S. Marshall's Office, and the U.S. Marshall does not have
the authority to serve process issued from a state court,
such as General District or Circuit. This complicates the
matter. To serve an individual at a base takes time because
of the procedures to verify and arrange for service. For
this reason, it is wise to allow for sufficient time to
A card was left on my door for my relative who
doesn't live here. What's this all about?
As much as we would like to tell you, we are
prohibited from discussing the process with anyone other
than for the person to whom it is issued. Think of it this
way, would you like the Sheriff discussing a process for you
with a neighbor or separated spouse? What you can do is
either provide us with a phone number and address so that we
can contact them, or have the relative call us.
A deputy left a card on my door telling me he had
to serve me a show cause to explain why I didn't appear in
court. My attorney told me I didn't have to go to court
because I filed bankruptcy. I thought when I filed
bankruptcy I wouldn't have to deal with these collection
matters anymore. Why do I have to go to court now?
Filing of bankruptcy protects the debtor from any
creditor process, i.e., collection of debts. However, the
court would not have any knowledge that a debtor filed
bankruptcy. This is why it is important to appear or notify
the court that bankruptcy has been filed. Once a show cause
has been issued for failure to appear, the process now
becomes a criminal matter (contempt of court) and the deputy
must serve the process, unless the court recalls the order.
If the debtor fails to appear on the show cause, a capias
for the defendant's arrest will be issued. This could be
avoided by taking care of the problem in the beginning.
Why can't I come down to your office to pick up
papers for my husband?
The laws relating to service of process are specific.
If the person to be served is a party to the suit, they must
be served in person at a business. Additionally, it may be a
process which requires personal service, regardless of where
it is served, and service at our office may be more
convenient to the individual being served.
If I pay the debt before the court date, do I
have to still go to court?
If the process indicates the debtor does not have to
appear in court, the debtor may elect to pay the debt and
forego going to court. However, the debtor takes a risk in
doing so. If for some reason the payment gets lost and
debtor fails to appear in court, judgment will be obtained
by default. It is more difficult to reverse a judgment than
it is to simply appear in court to ensure the debtor's
rights are protected. For this reason, all deputies will
encourage a person to appear in court when requested to do
I paid my late rent but the landlord had a deputy
post a notice to vacate on my door. Can the landlord still
There are several remedies available to both the
tenant and the landlord. Therefore, it is suggested each
party seeks the advice of an attorney. From the Sheriff's
perspective, however, once the Writ has been placed in his
hand, it is considered a valid writ and the eviction can
take place, even if the rent has been paid. Of course, those
remedies mentioned could stop an eviction from proceeding.
I am a landlord who has a delinquent tenant. I
went to court and obtained my judgment to have the tenant
evicted. However, today the tenant told me he filed
bankruptcy. I want them out! Why won't you go out and evict
them like I asked?
Filing of bankruptcy stops all civil actions against
the tenant. This includes the eviction process because the
debtor's estate, personal or real, is protected by the
bankruptcy court. In order for the landlord to go forward
with the eviction, he must obtain from the bankruptcy court,
an order granting relief from stay. Without this, the
Sheriff will not evict.
I've heard that sale of automobiles that are
confiscated by the police are going to auction. Who do I
contact for information about those sales?
Vehicles and property used in the commission of a
crime can be confiscated by the Commonwealth and sold. While
the Sheriff stores the confiscated vehicles, the sale of
those vehicles are handled by the Commonwealth's Attorney
who can be reached at 385-4401.
I found this paper on the door and this person
doesn't live here. What do I do with the paper?
It is important to understand that the Sheriff is not
the only person who serves processes. Private process
servers are also permitted to serve process. However, if you
should find a process on your door for someone who doesn't
live there, regardless of who may have served it, call our
office at 385-6336 and we will send a deputy to pick it up.
When calling us we will need some information, such as who
you are, the address where the process was left, if you are
related to the person to be served, if there is any
forwarding address or phone number, and how long ago the
person moved away.
I moved out of my boyfriend's apartment and left
some of my things there. He won't let me in to get them. I
need a law enforcement officer to go with me to get my
things because I am afraid he will get angry. How can I
Unfortunately, the Sheriff does not assist in
recovery of specific personal property unless he has a court
order in hand. If the boyfriend will not return the
property, the owner of the property may have to go to the
court to obtain an order called a Writ of Possession in
Detinue to have the Sheriff assist in recovery of the
withheld property. This takes time, but if the owner
believes the property will be sold or removed from the
Commonwealth, the owner can go to the magistrate to request
a Detinue Seizure Order. This process is more expensive and
the party should seek the advice of an attorney to determine
if this is the best route for recovery of the property.
I have been given custody of my daughter but my
husband refuses to return her to me. I need a deputy to go
with me to help me get my daughter back.
Unless there is a specifically worded order in the
Sheriff's hands directing him to take custody of a child, he
will not. Any custody order obtained in another state other
than Virginia is not recognized here and must be filed with
a Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to
ensure the foreign order complies with Virginia law.
My neighbor was evicted yesterday and there is a
mess in the yard. Who do I contact to get the mess cleaned
Any property which is placed to the curb during the
eviction process is the property of the tenant. It is
considered theft to take that property once placed to the
curb. If the property has been there for more than 24 hours,
the neighbor should contact the Waste Management division of
the city at 385-2450 to arrange for disposal. This is
usually the responsibility of the landlord. If, however, the
property is placed to an area where it is considered private
property, such as, condos or apartments, a person may
contact that association or rental office to request clean
A deputy posted a notice on my door saying he was
going to break and enter to recover furniture that my son
owns. I have repeatedly told the furniture company that my
son doesn't live with me any longer and took all his
furniture with him. How do I stop them from coming into my
Once the Writ has been issued, the Sheriff has the
authority to use force to execute the order. It is not
necessary that you be there, simply have someone available
to let the Sheriff and the furniture company in to confirm
what you have told him. This should stop repeated contact
from the furniture company.
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