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Riverside County (Opens in New Window)

None of the information contained in this section should be construed as legal advice.

If you have a legal question, please contact an attorney.

Civil Process Services

Listed below are common civil processes, orders, levies, and services performed by the Riverside County Sheriff's Court Services Division.

Before the Sheriff's Department can serve processes on your behalf you must have a court order.  Use the "Getting a Judgement or Order" or the "Court Self-Help" links to the right to obtain a court order for restraining orders, evictions, small claims, etc., or for alternative dispute resolution.

A general description is given for each process below. This does not include every detail, requirement, or legal regulation involved in each of these processes.


Order for Examination of Judgment Debtor

If you have a judgment against a person, but are unaware of the debtor's assets, you can go to the court and get an Order for Examination of a Judgment Debtor. An Order for Examination of a Judgment Debtor requires the judgment debtor to appear before the court, to furnish information to aid in the enforcement of a money judgment. The order informs the debtor that he is required to appear on a date and location specified in the order and will be required to answer questions concerning his financial assets. Boldface lettering on the bottom of the order informs the debtor that a failure to appear may result in a civil bench warrant being issued for the debtor's arrest.

Order to Show Cause / Temporary Restraining Order

An Order To Show Cause is a notice of motion and a citation to the party, to appear at a stated time and place, to show cause why the motion should not be granted. When a Temporary Restraining Order is added to the Order To Show Cause (OSC), it restricts certain listed activities, as stated on the order, from the date of service until the time of the hearing.

Order for Removal from Residence

This order is issued out of the Superior Court to remove people from residences in divorce and domestic violence cases. The order directs the Sheriff or police agency, in whose jurisdiction the address is located, to remove the person named in the order, from the specific address. These orders are issued in conjunction with Orders to Show Cause and Temporary Restraining Orders. The order must be directed to the department that will be serving the order and must be certified. The certification will be in the form of a red colored stamp applied to the order by the clerk of the court.

Money Judgment Writs and Writ of Execution (Money Judgment)

When a person wins a case in court and receives a money judgment, the judgment creditor may have the court clerk issue a writ of execution. The writ of execution gives the levying officer authority to levy upon the judgment debtor's assets. The judgment creditor will instruct the levying officer to levy upon the judgment debtor's interest in either real or personal property to satisfy the money judgment. After a levy has been made, the property (other than money) is sold for the purpose of satisfying the money judgment. A levy on the debtor's property must occur within 180 days from the date the writ was issued. Examples of the most common levies performed by the sheriff are listed below:

Wage Garnishment (Earnings Withholding Order)

An Earnings Withholding Order requires an employer to withhold the nonexempt portion of the debtor's earnings for payment directly to the levying officer. The employer deducts a certain percentage of the debtor's wages and sends it to the levying officer. The levying officer makes periodic disbursements to the judgment creditor and applies the amount(s) received toward satisfaction of the judgment. The judgment creditor must supply the name and address of the judgment debtor's employer. The California Court Judicial Council form, Application For Earnings Withholding Order Opens in new window is used in place of the creditor's instructions and may be obtained from the Sheriff's Civil office. An Earnings Withholding Order remains in effect until the judgment is satisfied, the debtor ceases to work for that employer, or an order of higher priority takes effect (such as an Earnings Withholding Order for child support).

Bank Levy

A judgment debtor's deposit account or safe deposit box may be levied upon under a writ of execution (money judgment). The levy reaches only those funds held at the time the levy is served upon the specific bank branch where the account is maintained. The judgment creditor must supply the levying officer with the name and address of the bank or financial institution to be served. The specific account number is not required for a bank levy. However, if the deposit account stands in the name of the judgment debtor and the debtor's spouse, other person(s), or in a fictitious business name, you will need to supply additional documents to be delivered to the bank at the time of the levy. Refer to California Code of Civil Procedure #CCP 700.160 for specific information regarding these additional documents.

Real Property Levy

The judgment debtor's interest in real property may be levied upon and sold under a writ of execution to satisfy a money judgment. The judgment creditor must supply an adequate description of the property (both a legal description and common street address, if any); whether the debtor has a leasehold interest, and whether, or not, the property contains a dwelling or is vacant land. The instructions must also include the names and addresses of all other persons having an interest in the property as indicated by records of the county assessor.

Personal Property Levy

Personal property of the judgment debtor may be levied upon and sold under a writ of execution to satisfy a money judgment. The judgment creditor's instructions must specifically describe the property and its location in such detail that no other property could reasonably be mistaken for the property to be levied upon.

A levy on personal property requires an initial deposit of funds in an amount sufficient to cover the costs of seizing, moving and safely storing the property until sold at execution sale and delivered to the successful bidder. The amount of the deposit will depend upon the type and quantity of items to be levied upon. If an item of personal property sought to be levied upon is located in a private place (wherein Fourth Amendment protections are applicable), the judgment creditor may apply to the court for a court order authorizing the levying officer to enter the private place to take custody of the property.

Vehicle Levy

A judgment debtor's vehicle may be levied upon and sold under a writ of execution to satisfy a money judgment. The judgment creditor's instructions should describe the vehicle as thoroughly as possible. The instructions should include the license number, V.I.N. number, make, model, color and location of the vehicle. If the judgment debtor has only one motor vehicle, the debtor is entitled to an automatic $2725.00 exemption. This means the debtor would receive $2725.00 from the proceeds of the execution sale. If no bids exceed $2725.00 the vehicle would be released to the debtor.

Till Tap

A Till Tap is a levy in which the Sheriff is instructed to go to the debtor-owned business and seize the money in the cash register. The levying deputy serves the writ process on the judgment debtor or debtor's agent, explains the purpose of the levy, then removes the cash and checks found in the cash register. This type of levy is most often effective on retail type businesses that maintain a cash drawer (or register) and conduct over-the-counter sales. The instructions must include the name of the judgment debtor's business and address.

Keeper Levy

A Sheriff's Keeper (a civilian employee of the Sheriff) is placed in a debtor-owned business to collect money resulting from sales and transactions. This type of levy is most often effective on retail type businesses that maintain a cash drawer (or register) and conduct over-the-counter sales. During the keeper period, the business may continue to operate in the ordinary course of business provided all sales are final and are for cash or its equivalent (i.e. checks). Keepers are customarily installed for periods of 8, 12, or 24 hours per day. Many counties will furnish, to creditors, instruction forms specifically designed for keeper levies. Use the "Levy on a Debtor's Going Business" form with this type of levy.

Writ of Attachment

A Writ of Attachment is issued prior to judgment and is used to levy on the defendant's interest in real or personal property as authorized in the writ. The purpose of an attachment is to secure the defendant's assets to assure such assets remain available for execution at the time a final money judgment is entered. The court may issue the writ upon the plaintiff establishing, to the court's satisfaction, that there is "probable validity" that the plaintiff will prevail in the action and there is cause to believe the defendant's assets may not be available at the time judgment is entered. When using a Writ of Attachment to levy on real property use the "Levy on Real Property" form. When using a Writ of Attachment to conduct a Till Tap or to place a keeper in the debtor's going business,

Writ of Possession / Claim & Delivery

A Writ of Possession/Claim & Delivery is issued prior to judgment and permits the levying officer to seize specific personal property in possession of the defendant or the defendant's agent. A Claim & Delivery differs from a Writ of Attachment. The purpose of a Claim & Delivery is to recover personal property being unlawfully detained rather than securing property for the payoff of a possible judgment. After holding the property ten days, the levying officer delivers the personal property to the plaintiff pending final disposition of the lawsuit. The court may issue the writ upon the plaintiff establishing, to the court's satisfaction, that there is "probable validity" that the plaintiff will prevail in the action and there is cause to believe the specific property will not be available at the time judgment is entered.

Writ of Possession / Personal Property

A judgment for possession of personal property may be enforced by a Writ of Possession of Personal Property. The purpose of the writ is to restore possession of specific item(s) of personal property to the judgment creditor. A Writ of Possession of Personal Property permits the levying officer to satisfy the judgment by seizing and delivering the specified property directly to the creditor. If the property cannot be found, or if delivery can not be made, the writ may be returned to court and reissued as a money judgment writ for the value of the specific property.

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 Riverside County, the original and four photocopies of the 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. Cancellations by telephone will require subsequent written/signed instructions to cancel. By doing so, additional time slots become available that will expedite pending enforcement tasks.

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.


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The Riverside County Sheriff's Court Services Division does not accept personal checks for civil process fees.
Cash, cashier's check, or money order must accompany requests for services.

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