Texas Counties 4U! Texas County Services

Before you go to your county courthouse, view these videos!

How to Change Your Name

NEW! How to Get Your Name Changed

  There are many reasons why you might want to change your name. Here's how.
How to Obtain or Renew a Passport

How to Obtain or Renew a Passport 

 What you need to know and what documents to bring with you when you apply for a passport
How to Obtain a Birth or Death Certificate

How to Obtain a Birth or Death Certificate

  There are many reasons you may need a copy of a birth or death certificate
How to Obtain a Marriage License

How to Obtain a Marriage License

  Know what you will need to take to the courthouse to get your marriage license
How to Pay Your Property Taxes

How to Pay Your Property Taxes

  View this short video to learn how and why you should pay property taxes
Disabled Plates and Placards

Disabled Plates and Placards

  What you need to know to apply for disabled plates and placards
      see listing of all county service videos

Description of County Office

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Texas County Sheriff

Texas County Attorney PDF document PDF version

Article 5, section 23 of the Texas Constitution provides that “There shall be elected by the qualified voters of each county a Sheriff, who shall hold his office for the term of four years, whose duties, qualifications, prerequisites, and fees of office, shall be prescribed by the Legislature, and vacancies in whose office shall be filled by the Commissioners Court until the next general election.”

The sheriff wears many hats both in the civil and criminal arenas. There are a variety of statutes that govern the duties of the sheriff.

In the civil area the sheriff is required to execute all process directed to him/her by legal authority and shall return the process or precept to the proper court on or before the date the process or precept is returnable. In other words, the sheriff must carry out orders from the court and then return paperwork to the court to certify that the orders were fulfilled.

The sheriff commits an offense if he/she fails to return a process or precept as required by law or makes a false return, and is subject to a charge of contempt and a fine. In addition, the sheriff is liable for all damages sustained by a person by reason of an offense committed by the sheriff.

Some of the civil process to be served by the sheriff includes citations, attachments, sequestrations, distress warrants, executions, garnishments, injunctions, and forcible entry and detainers. These duties are among the most important responsibilities of the sheriff and probably have more liability for the county than any other duty required of the sheriff. The sheriff also has responsibilities under the family law, juvenile law, and the estray law (loose livestock), to name a few.

The sheriff is responsible for the jail and for ensuring that it is in compliance with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. In addition, the sheriff is responsible for the health and welfare of the prisoners and their personal property.

The sheriff appoints his deputies and reserve deputies, and in some instances provides bailiffs to the courts. Sheriffs also are required to appoint jailers and dispatchers. They are in charge of the jail commissary, which must be made available to the prisoners. Other duties include transporting juveniles if designated by the commissioners court and transporting mental patients to the state hospital, if required.

In addition, the sheriff must maintain an open door to the public.

In the criminal area the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county and is charged with the enforcement of the many criminal statutes. Sheriffs must be familiar with and be able to implement the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Penal Code, and the forfeiture laws.

Sheriffs are required to make monthly reports to the commissioners court on money collected for fines, as required by the Local Government Code.

The county sheriff must also keep track of evidence that is placed in the custody of the sheriff’s department and be prepared to testify before the grand jury and other courts if necessary. Other areas of responsibility are set out in the Transportation Code, Health & Safety Code, Agriculture Code and the Parks & Wildlife Code.

The public expects the sheriff to hear their complaints, look for lost dogs and cats, settle arguments among family or neighbors, and be available 24/7. Taking everything into consideration, the job of a Texas sheriff is an awesome responsibility and one that requires sheriffs and their deputies to put their lives on the line every day.

Steve Westbrook, Executive Director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas
April 2005

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