The following material has been prepared by the Los Angeles
County Sheriff's Department to clarify some questions concerning
Landlord-Tenant disputes. The various steps required to obtain
a judgment in court can be complex. It is therefore always recommended
that an attorney be contacted if confronted with a problem tenant.
No one else is authorized or competent to give all the necessary
ILLEGAL EVICTION. The property owner desiring to recover premises occupied by a tenant must follow certain legal
procedures and cannot resort to "self help."
789.3 Civil Code
A landlord shall not with intent to terminate the occupancy under any lease or other tenancy or estate at
will, however created, of property used by a tenant as his residence willfully cause, directly or indirectly,
the interruption or termination of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water,
heat, light, electricity, gas, telephone, elevator, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under
the control of the landlord.
In addition, a landlord shall not, with intent to terminate the occupancy under any lease or other tenancy
or estate at will, however created, of property used by a tenant as his or her residence, willfully:
Prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the property by changing the locks or using a
bootlock or by any other similar method or device;
Remove outside doors or windows; or
Remove from the premises the tenant's personal property, the furnishings, or any other items without
the prior written consent of the tenant . . .
Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prevent the lawful eviction of a tenant by appropriate legal
authorities, nor shall anything in this subdivision apply to . . . (motels or hotels.)
Actual damages of the tenant.
An amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each day or part thereof the landlord remains
in violation of this section. In determining the amount of such award, the court shall consider proof of
such matters as justice may require; however, in no event shall less than two hundred fifty dollars
($250) be awarded for each separate cause of action . . .
TENANT NOTICES. Various types of notices are available at stationary stores. For example, a three-day notice to pay
rent or quit may be used if the tenant is behind on the rent. Or, a thirty-day notice to terminate may be appropriate if
rent is paid monthly. The proper notice must be legally served on the tenant. The Sheriff may be utilized to serve the
notice, but someone other than the Sheriff may serve it. While there are alternative methods of service allowed by law,
the notice is generally served personally upon the tenant.
UNLAWFUL DETAINER LAWSUIT. If the tenant refuses to move out under
terms of the notice, a complaint must be filed in the proper court
for recovery of possession of the premises. This action is termed "Unlawful
SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT. After the complaint is filed, the court will issue a summons. A copy of this summons
and a copy of the complaint must then be served upon the tenant. The Sheriff, or anyone over the age of 18 and not
a party to the action, may serve the summons and complaint.
JUDGMENT. The tenant has five days, after the summons is served, to file a written answer with the court. If the
tenant files the answer, wanting to contest the case, the court will set a date for trial. At the end of the five day period,
if the tenant has not filed an answer to the complaint, a default judgment may be entered by the court.
WRIT OF EXECUTION (POSSESSION OF REAL PROPERTY). Once a judgment
is rendered, the court may issue a writ of execution (possession of
real property). This is the authority upon which forcible eviction
of the tenant may be made. ONLY THE SHERIFF MAY ENFORCE THIS WRIT.
The original writ and four copies, signed instructions to enforce the
writ, and a fee deposit are required.
EVICTION PROCEDURE. The procedure for eviction, once the writ
is delivered to the Sheriff for serving, is spelled out in Section
1174 of the Code of Civil Procedure. From the date of service of the
writ by the Sheriff, the tenant is given five (5) days to vacate the
premises. If the tenant fails to move out within the five day period,
the Sheriff must conduct a forcible eviction.
Custody of all personal property of the tenant remaining on the
premises at the time of forcible eviction is temporarily given to the
landlord who must store it in a place of safekeeping. The tenant may
redeem the personal property upon payment of reasonable costs of storage.
The cost of storage shall be the fair rental value of the space reasonably
required for storage for the term of the storage if the landlord stores
the persona! property on the premises. Claims of Exemption and Third
Party Claims on the defendant's property cannot be filed with the Sheriff.
If the belongings of the tenant are not redeemed within fifteen
(15) days, they may be sold at public auction (by the plaintiff) or
otherwise disposed of in accordance with Section 1174 of the Code of
Civil Procedure. After deduction of the costs of storage, advertising,
and sale, any balance of the proceeds of the sale which is not claimed
by the former tenant must be paid into the county treasury.
RE-ENTRY AFTER EVICTION. Occasionally, after eviction by virtue
of a Writ of Execution (Possession of Real Property), a tenant will
decide to move back into the premises. The following laws may be enforced
against the tenant by the local police department or Sheriff's patrol
419 Penal Code
"Every person who has been removed from any lands by process
of law, or who has removed from any lands pursuant to the lawful adjudication
or direction of any court, tribunal, or officer, and who afterwards
unlawfully returns to settle, reside upon, or take possession of such
lands, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
A landlord desiring to take action under the above section should
have a copy of the writ under which the eviction was made, and in cases
executed by the Sheriff, a copy of the Sheriff's receipt for possession
of the property.
602.5 Penal Code
"Every person other than a public officer or employee acting
within the course and scope of his employment in performance of a duty
imposed by law, who enters or remains in any noncommercial dwelling
house, apartment, or other such place without consent of the owner,
or his agent, or the person in lawful possession thereof, is guilty
of a misdemeanor."
1210 Civil Code
"Every person dispossessed or ejected from any real property
by the judgment or process of any court of competent jurisdiction,
who, not having right so to do, reenters into or upon or takes possession
of the real property, or induces or procures any person not having
a right so to do, or aids or abets such a person therein, is guilty
of a contempt of the court by which the judgment was rendered or from
which the process issued. Upon a conviction for contempt the court
must immediately issue an alias process, directed to the proper officer,
and requiring the officer to restore possession to the party entitled
under the original judgment or process . . . "
This section is enforceable only upon the defendants having been found guilty of contempt by the court itself.
The plaintiff (landlord) must file a petition with the court, whereupon the defendant (tenant) may be ordered into
court for a hearing regarding possible contempt. If found guilty by the court, the other provisions of the section
may be carried out.
If the judge decides in your favor, the clerk of the court will
enter a judgment against the defendant. The defendant
should pay the money directly to you.
IF THE DEBT IS PAID
You must file a satisfaction of judgment with the clerk
of the court within 15 days after the debt is paid.
IF THE DEBT IS NOT PAID
If the debt is not paid within a few days, make a demand
upon the debtor by letter, telephone, or in person. Making a demand
could save you time and money.
ORDER FOR APPEARANCE OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR
If you do not know what property the defendant has or where it
is located, you should take steps to obtain this information. One
way to ascertain the debtor's assets is to obtain an order
for appearance of judgment debtor. The order requires the
debtor to appear in court to answer questions under oath concerning
the debtor's property. If the debtor fails to appear in court,
the court may issue a warrant for debtor's arrest.
The order is obtained from the court clerk. The Sheriff will attempt
to serve the order upon payment of a fee deposit.
Refer to the Civil Process page for fee amounts.
WRIT OF EXECUTION
If the judgment debtor does not pay the judgment, you may obtain
a writ of execution and three copies from the court clerk.
The writ gives the Sheriff the authority to seize property of the
judgment debtor and is valid for 180 days after its issuance.
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SHERIFF
You must give the Sheriff signed, written instructions to
levy on (seize) and sell, if necessary, specific property belonging
to the debtor to satisfy your judgment. You may instruct the Sheriff
to levy on property such as wages, bank account, vehicle, place of
business or real property.
The law requires the Sheriff to charge fees for each levy. You
must pay a fee deposit, in advance, from which the Sheriff
will deduct fees. Fee deposits range from $30 for a wage garnishment
to $3500 or more to levy on a business. In addition to the Sheriff's
levy fee, other costs may include charges for moving and storage,
towing, recording, publishing in a newspaper, and keepers. Any
unused portion of the fee deposit will be refunded. Sheriff fees
are added to your judgment and increases the amount the debtor
must pay to fully satisfy the case.
EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER
To levy on the debtor's wages, you must give the Sheriff a completed
application for earnings withholding order, the writ of
execution and one copy, and a $30 fee deposit.
The employer is required to remit 25% of the debtor's disposable
(net) wages to the Sheriff. The withholding period begins 10 days
after the earnings withholding order is served and continues
for up to 10 years. Within 15 days after service of the order,
the employer is also required to mail a completed employer's
return to the Sheriff indicating the status and income of
the defendant. A copy of the employer's return will be mailed to
To levy on (garnish) a bank account, you must give the Sheriff
signed written instructions indicating the name and address of
the bank (cross streets are unacceptable), the account number,
if known, the writ of execution and two copies, and a $35 fee deposit.
Within 10 days after service of the garnishment, the
bank is required to remit any money in the account at the time
of levy, up to the amount of your judgment plus costs, to the Sheriff.
The bank is also required to mail to the Sheriff a completed memorandum
of garnishee indicating the status of the account. A copy
of the memorandum will be mailed to you.
You may instruct the Sheriff to seize money in the cash register
(till tap) at the debtor's place of business at the time
of levy. The fee deposit for a till tap is $85.
You may instruct the Sheriff to place a keeper in the
debtor's place of business for a period of time. The keeper will
collect all money received by the business and prevent the removal
of equipment or inventory. The fee deposit for an 8 hour keeper
installation is $300.
You may instruct the Sheriff to seize and sell the debtor's personal
property (equipment and inventory) at the debtor's business. A
keeper may be installed to collect money and prevent the removal
of any property until the property is moved to storage. After giving
10 days notice of sale, the property will be sold at public auction.
The fee deposit is at least $1500 plus the estimated costs to move
and store property.
REAL ESTATE LEVY
To levy on real property, contact the Real Estate Section at 110
N. Grand Ave., Room 525, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 974-4827.
Real estate levies can be complex and are handled exclusively by
the Real Estate Section.
THIRD PARTY CLAIMS
Before instructing the Sheriff to levy on property, you should
try to determine if it is wholly or partially owned by someone
else. For instance, a bank may be the legal owner of a vehicle.
If so, the bank may file a third party claim demanding
payment of the amount owed on the vehicle. You will be notified
of the third party claim and given the opportunity to pay the third
party or post a bond. If you do not, the property will be released
to the debtor.
CLAIM OF EXEMPTION
The debtor may claim that the property is exempt for a variety
of reasons. The Sheriff will notify you if a claim of exemption
is filed. If you do not oppose the exemption, the property will
ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT
You may place a lien on the debtor's real property by recording an
abstract of judgment with the County Recorder. The abstract
of judgment is issued by the court clerk. The County Recorder will
charge a recording fee. The Sheriff does not record abstracts of
judgment with the County Recorder.
All monies collected by the Sheriff are deposited into the county
treasury and held for 21 days under the financial control of the
County Auditor. Money is disbursed by the County Auditor, not the
Sheriff. The Sheriff is restricted from giving out the County Auditor's
telephone number. Any inquiries regarding the payment of money
must be directed to the appropriate Branch of the Sheriff's Department
handling your case.
LEGAL NAME OF DEBTOR
The Sheriff cannot levy on a debtor's property unless the debtor
is properly named. The legal name of the debtor is very important.
For instance, a fictitious business name (dba) is purely
descriptive and is not a legal name. If the writ of execution lists
the debtor as "John Smith dba Smith Plumbing," the legal name
of the debtor is John Smith, not Smith Plumbing.
Although the Sheriff cannot give
legal advice, we can inform you of our procedures and policies concerning
the service and execution of civil process. A general overview of the
enforcement of a money judgment is available in our brochure, What
Happens After Judgment? For eviction procedures, you may read our
brochure, Landlord/Tenant Information.
If you already know what type of civil process or service you want
the Sheriff to serve or perform, go the a Civil Process page for detailed
Court Services Division does not
have a central office. Our work is distributed among 21 Branch offices
according to the type of process and service address. It is important
to utilize the correct Branch to avoid delays caused by sending your
process to the wrong Branch office. Use the Civil Branch Locator on
the Civil Process page to ascertain the proper civil process Branch
The law requires the Sheriff
to charge fees ranging from $25 to more than $3,500, depending on the
type of civil process. The fees for most types of service are listed
in the Information Guides for each type of process.
Some, but not all, Sheriff fees
can be waived by court order. Contact the clerk of court handling
your case to obtain an application for an in forma pauperis waiver.
The Sheriff will accept a properly completed and certified copy of
an in forma pauperis waiver in lieu of certain fees.
At this time, certain legal constraints
and technological obstacles prevent the Sheriff from accepting fees
and civil process by electronic transmission. However, it is our intention
to seek legislation and funding to make electronic filing a reality
in the near future.
With few exceptions, all information,
including litigant names, addresses and telephone numbers, are public
record as a matter of law.
It is difficult to anticipate
when the Sheriff will serve your process. Most types of process must
be served within certain legal time limits. If personal service is
legally required, the Sheriff will make up to three attempts to serve
your process. A high volume of process and/or a shortage of personnel
may hamper our efforts to expeditiously serve your process. Consequently,
we ask that you give us your process as soon as possible. With the
exception of certain domestic violence cases, we generally do not attach
a higher priority to any particular type of process. We understand
that every case is a personal priority to the concerned litigants and
try to manage our offices efficiently to provide the best service possible
using available resources.
The Sheriff's fees are established
by statute. The Sheriff must charge a fee not only for service but
also for a Not Found or Cancellation. A Not Found fee is charged if
the person cannot be served at the given address. For example, a Not
Found fee is charged if the process cannot be served at an address
because the person no longer works or lives there. A Cancellation fee
is charged if you want to cancel the service. We automatically provide
you a written explanation of all fees charged.
The law requires the Sheriff to
immediately deposit all cash and checks in the County treasury. If
you are entitled to a refund or other payment from the Sheriff, the
County Auditor will mail you a county warrant (check). Please direct
all inquiries to the Branch office handling your case. We are prohibited
from giving out the telephone number of the County Auditor.
Much of the law concerning the
service and execution of civil process is covered in the Code of Civil
Procedure (CCP). Process brought to the Sheriff for service must be
valid on its face, issued by a competent authority and accompanied
by adequate legal instructions. The instructions must indicate the
process to be served, the person or entity to be served, the location
for service and be signed by the attorney of the party or by the party,
if he has no attorney. Instruction forms for specific types of levies
and service requests are available on the Civil Process page. Also,
there are usually time restrictions regarding the service and enforcement
of various types of civil process. The fees for service of process
are set in accordance with the California Government Code, 26720 et.
seq. Many types of civil process can be served by anyone over the age
of 18 who is not a party to the action or by a registered process server.
Registered Process Servers may be found in the telephone yellow pages
under process server, registered process server or attorney service.
|As a leader
in the Los Angeles County
myself to honorably perform my
for the dignity of all people,
to do right and fight wrongs,
to apply common sense and
all I do and
to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism,
and bigotry in all its forms.
COURT SERVICES MISSION
It is the mission of the Los Angeles County
Sheriff's Department Court Services Division to provide
professional security and support services to the Trial Courts of
Los Angeles County.
The Court Services Division pledges to
accomplish its mission through a partnership with the Trial
Courts, the communities within them, and in accordance with
constitutional rights, enforcement of laws, preservation of the
peace, and the creation of a safe and secure environment for all.
COURT SERVICES PERSONNEL
Court Services Division personnel provide
services for 585 Bench Officers, 634 courtrooms and 58 court
|Sworn Peace Officers
CIVIL PROCESS For the year 2000:
|Total amount collected
SECURITY OPERATIONS UNIT (S.O.U.)
This unit is responsible for investigating threats made against
judicial officers, members of the Board of Supervisors, Chief
Administrative Officer, and other elected officials. A member of
the SOU fills the position of Sergeant-at-Arms when the Board of
Supervisors is in session.
COURT SECURITY & PLANNING
This unit conducts security audits of each courthouse facility.
The following major categories are a part of each audit: Building
Perimeter/Interior Doors and Locks, Emergency Power,
Communications, Security Systems, Courthouse Lighting, Detention
Areas, Bus Sallyports, and Custody Movement.
WARRANT UNIT For the year 2000:
|Total warrants received
|Total priority warrants
|Total priority warrants
|Misdemeanants arrested by
|Felons arrested by unit
|Total priority warrant
|Total priority warrants
cleared by arrest/field contact
|Total warrants cleared
Court Services Division Training Unit is responsible for
training 1900 sworn and civilian personnel. The Unit has
developed, and contracted with outside vendors, to provide 66
different training topics. A sampling of courses include: bailiff
orientation, levy crew training, force 1, 2, & 3, First Aid,
CPR and a Security Officer/Assistant program.
WEAPONS SCREENING PROGRAM For the year 2000:
|Restricted items held
INMATE TRANSPORTATION For the year 2000:
|Average transported daily
BAILIFFS' PURPOSE AND SCOPE
Bailiffs and/or prisoner control deputies execute the following
- Inspect and secure their courtrooms, judge's chambers,
holding cell(s), and adjacent areas for weapons, explosives,
- Secure entry/exit inmate routes from lockup to court and
- Respond to an emergency situation, i.e., escape, natural
disaster, building evacuation, accordingly.
- Preserve the overall safety and security of the courthouse
environment for the judiciary, executives, staff, and the
Criminal Cases Calendared in the Courts for the Year 2000:
through former Municipal Court