Frequently Asked Civil Process Questions

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.

An inquiry into 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.

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.

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 inquire.

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 attorney.

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 which will later disburse to the plaintiff.

Every sheriff should have a directory of all sheriffs in the United States. You may contact your local sheriff by phone or email and request the address for that jurisdiction. Or you may contact the National Sheriffs' Association at , write to 1450 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314-3490 or 703-836-7827. For locating Virginia sheriffs, you can contact the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association at , by writing to 701 East Franklin Street, Suite 706, Richmond, Virginia 23219, calling 804-225-7152 or faxing 804-225-7162.”

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.

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 serve.

As much as we would like to tell you, we are prohibited from discussing the process with anyone other than the person to whom it is issued. Think of it this way, would you like the Sheriff to discuss 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.

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 for 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.

The laws relating to the 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 that requires personal service, regardless of where it is served, and service at our office may be more convenient to the individual being served.

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 the 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 so.

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.

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.

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 is handled by the Commonwealth's Attorney who can be reached at 385-4401.

It is important to understand that the Sheriff is not the only person who serves processes. Private process servers are also permitted to serve the 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.

Unfortunately, the Sheriff does not assist in the 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 the 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.

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.

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 in 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 up.

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 with the furniture company.