Listed below are common civil processes, orders, levies, and services performed by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Civil Division.
Collecting a money judgment can be difficult. You must give the Sheriff specific instructions regarding the type of levy you want. You must know where the defendant works, banks, operates a business, or possibly the make and year of their vehicle. Sheriff’s Office employees are forbidden by law to give legal advice, and the following are only general guidelines provided to assist you.
Order for Appearance
If you are unaware of the defendant’s assets or the location of their assets, you may return to the court that issued the judgment and request an ORDER OF APPEARANCE OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR. This order, after being served upon the defendant, requires the defendant to appear in court to answer questions about their assets. If they do not appear, the court will issue a warrant for their arrest. Your instructions for service must contain the defendant’s address.
Earnings Withholding Order (EWO)
An EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER requires an employer to send to the Sheriff a percentage of the defendant’s salary, as specified by law. The monies collected by the defendant’s employer are sent to the Sheriff’s Office and disbursed as collected, after taking out a $12.00 disbursement fee for handling the monies. This fee amount is then added back into the amount to be collected. Interest will also be added into the amount to be collected. The employer has 15 days to send in an “employer’s return.” A copy of this will be mailed to the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney. An EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER remains in effect until the judgment is satisfied in full.
A defendant’s bank account may be garnished. The name and address of the bank are required in your instructions to the Sheriff. Most banks will not withhold funds unless the name on the account is exactly the same as it appears on the Writ of Execution. Though not required, the account number may assist the bank in locating the defendant’s account.
A vehicle belonging to the defendant and in their possession may be levied upon and sold at public auction. Your instructions to the Sheriff must contain the make, year, license number and location of the vehicle. If the defendant has but one vehicle, he is entitled to an automatic $2,900.00 exemption. This means that the bidding starts at the $2,900.00 exemption, plus monies owed to the lien holder and all costs incurred. If the minimum bid is not received, the vehicle must be returned to the defendant.
Till Tap Levy
If the defendant is a business and has a cash till on the premises, you may instruct the Sheriff to execute a “till tap” levy. Monies of the defendant may be removed from the till and paid to you. Instructions to the Sheriff’ require the name and address of the defendant’s business.
If the defendant is a business and takes in payment for services or merchandise, you may instruct the Sheriff to execute a Keeper Levy. With installation of Sheriff’s keeper personnel at the business, business assets and monies received come under the control of the Sheriff. The name on the writ must be exactly the same as the name of the business and the defendant must own the business. The name and address of the business are necessary to complete the instructions.
Writ of Possession / Real Property “Eviction Writ”
A Writ of Possession of Real Property is commonly referred to as the “eviction writ.” This writ enables the levying officer to satisfy the judgment by placing the judgment creditor in lawful and peaceful possession of specific land and appurtenant structures. A judgment for possession of real property may result from a tenant’s non-payment of rent or a breach of the rental or lease contract. A writ of possession may issue at the conclusion of a civil action for unlawful detainer.
The eviction process must be carried out according to the unlawful detainer laws that govern it. The specific procedures to follow can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. The following eviction scenario is intended only to give an example of the complexities involved in an eviction proceeding and is not to be construed as legal advice.
When a tenant is behind in his/her rent, the landlord can cause to be served upon the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. Various types of such notices are available at stationary stores. The tenant must be served with a copy of the notice by either personally delivering the notice to the tenant, or posting in a conspicuous place on the property and thereafter mailing the notice to the tenant, postage prepaid, to the tenant’s last known address. The lawful method of service of the notice is more particularly described in section 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent or move within the prescribed time, an unlawful detainer action can be filed with the court. The person who served the notice must complete and sign a proof of service for each tenant served. The proof(s) of service must be filed with the court in order to commence a civil action for unlawful detainer. The landlord/plaintiff is required to pay a court filing fee. Many courts provide unlawful detainer packets containing the necessary forms and information for proceeding in the action. The summons and complaint (unlawful detainer) must be lawfully served on the tenant(s). A person over the age of 18 years (who is not a party to the action) may serve the summons on each named tenant(s)/defendant(s). After service has been effected, the original summons and proofs of service must be filed with the court.
After service of the summons and complaint has been effected, the tenant has 5 days to file a written answer to the court. If the tenant files his/her answer, the court clerk sets the day and time for a court hearing on the matter. If the tenant does not file his/her written response with the court within 5 days from service, the plaintiff may request a default judgment be entered. When a judgment is entered in favor of the landlord, whether entered after trial, stipulation or by a default, the landlord may request the court issue a writ of possession of real property. The writ may only be enforced by a levying officer (Sheriff or Marshal).
In Ventura County, the original writ may be delivered to the appropriate Sheriff’s Civil office for enforcement. Our office must receive signed written instructions from the judgment creditor’s attorney of record, or from the judgment creditor if he/she has no attorney. Use the “Evictions” form for this type of process. The appropriate fee for executing the writ must also be provided. Our personnel will serve the tenant(s) with a copy of the writ and a 5-day notice to vacate. You will be notified of the date and time the eviction is to take place. You, or your designated agent, must meet the Deputy at the location at the date and time of the scheduled lockout. You should arrive about 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Be prepared to wait up to one hour for the deputy to arrive. Difficulties that occur during previous evictions will occasionally create unforeseen delays to the deputy’s arrival. Remain visible to the responding deputy… but do not approach the residence. When you see the Sheriff’s car arrive, approach and identify yourself to the deputy. The landlord is required to provide access to the premises by either key or locksmith. After the landlord has been placed into possession of the premises, it is recommended the locks be changed to prevent re-entry by the former tenants.
The deputy will remove the occupants and provide the landlord with a signed restoration notice. This document serves as proof that possession has lawfully been restored to the landlord. Should the former tenant(s) return to the premises without your permission, you should contact your local police or sheriff patrol station to report a trespass is occurring. Be prepared to show the restoration document to the responding law enforcement officer.
If the occupants vacate the premises prior to the scheduled lockout, and you wish to cancel the formal lockout procedure, we will accept your cancellation via facsimile or email. The cancellation must be in writing and signed by the Plaintiff’s Attorney or Plaintiff (pro-per) if there is no attorney. We do not accept verbal cancellations.
Writ of Sale
A Writ of Sale is issued for the purpose of selling specific real or personal property. It is most commonly used to enforce a judicial foreclosure of a mortgage, deed or lien. The property is sold in conformance with the judgment for sale of the property. A writ of sale delivered to the levying officer must be accompanied by a certified copy of the judgment for sale.
We understand that you are eager to remain abreast of the status of your case. Once you have left your case for processing however, please be patient. You will be informed when we have information for you. In the case of a bank or wage levy, you will receive a copy of the bank or employer’s answer. In the case of a vehicle, till tap or keeper, you will be informed by phone.
THE ABOVE IS ONLY A GUIDE, AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. FURTHER, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY AS TO THE CURRENCY OF THE INFORMATION PRESENTED.