Some of the duties of the modern Texas Constable are to enforce all writs from a magistrate, such as:
Evictions: the removal of people from rented or foreclosed homes by court order;
Garnishments: a court order that authorizes the Constable to seize money in banks and other locations;
Sequestrations: the seizure of certain items, such as vehicles, boats, aircraft, furniture, etc., by the Constable with a court order to bring these items into the court’s jurisdiction and hold them until orders by a judge grant disposition;
Executions: court order ordering the Constable to collect the money or property of the defendant that lost a law suit and to sell such property to satisfy the judgment;
Attachment: to seize certain personal or business property and give it to another and to seize certain individuals and bring them to the court because they have not responded to the court’s orders.
Constables serve child support papers and also arrest child support violators when ordered to do so by the court.
Constables also serve lawsuit citations and subpoenas, and sometimes pick up children by taking them from one parent and delivering them to the other parent by court order.
Constables also enforce tax warrants and seize real estate and businesses for delinquent taxes, and conduct the sale of these houses and businesses on the county courthouse steps.
Some Constable departments have litter abatement and pollution deputies. Some have mental health deputies; some have school resource deputies; some have patrol and traffic division deputies.
The Constable’s duties vary in different counties, but they have the power and authority to do all these things and much more.
Constables are licensed Texas Peace Officers that must take and pass all training that other law enforcement officers in Texas must complete.
Constables may make a warrantless arrest for any offense committed in their presence or view anywhere in Texas, except for offenses under Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Subtitle C, which covers most moving traffic violations. However, they may enforce all state and local laws while in their county, including traffic offenses. Constables may serve arrest warrants anywhere inTexas.
The Texas constable is provided for in the Texas Constitution of 1876 (Article 5, Section 18), which calls for the election of a constable in each Texas precinct of a county, and counties may have between one and eight precincts each depending on their population. The term of office for Texas constables is four years. However, when vacancies arise, the commissioner’s court of the respective county has the authority to appoint a replacement to serve out the remaining term. If no person is elected and qualified under law to fill an office of constable for seven consecutive years, the respective commissioner’s court may declare the office dormant and it may not be filled by election or appointment. However, the commissioner’s court may reinstate the office by a majority vote or by calling an election where a majority of precinct voters approve it.
In Texas, constables and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and thus, may legally exercise their authority in any precinct within their county. However, some constables’ offices limit themselves to providing law enforcement services only to their respective precinct, except in the case of serving civil and criminal process. Constables and their deputies may serve civil process in any precinct in their county and any contiguous county and can serve arrest warrants anywhere in the state. The duties of a Texas constable generally include providing bailiffs for the justice of the peace court(s) within his precinct and serving process issued there and from any other court. Moreover, some constables’ offices limit themselves to only these activities but others provide patrol, investigative, and security services as well.
New Constable Qualifications
Constable qualifications as changed by HB 1588 of the 79th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature:
Local Government Code 86.0021 (Qualifications; Removal)
(a) A person is not eligible to serve as constable unless:
(1) the person is eligible to be licensed under Sections 1701.309 and 1701.312, Occupations Code, and:
(A) has at least an Associate’s Degree conferred by an institution of higher education accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
(B) is a special investigator under Article 2.122(a), Code of Criminal Procedure; or
(C) is an honorably retired peace officer or honorably retired federal criminal investigator who holds a certificate of proficiency issued under Section 1701.357, Occupations Code; or
(2) the person is an active or inactive licensed peace officer under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code.
(b) On or before the 270th day after the date a constable takes office, the constable shall provide, to the commissioners court of the county in which the constable serves, evidence that the constable has been issued a permanent peace officer license under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code. A constable who fails to provide evidence of licensure under this subsection or who fails to maintain a permanent license while serving in office forfeits the office and is subject to removal in a quo warranto proceeding under Chapter 66, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
(c) The license requirement of Subsection (b) supersedes the license requirement of Section 1701.302, Occupations Code.