Civil Unit


The Sheriff’s Civil Unit will resume processing and enforcing Unlawful Detainer and Eviction processes pursuant to the order issued by Judge Michael Carrozzo on 10/1/20. Please see attached order HERE

The Civil Unit is responsible for processing various types of civil process such as temporary restraining orders, evictions, wage garnishments, bank levies, summons, claims, real and personal property levies and sales. Residents and businesses in Santa Barbara County use the bureau’s services to help serve certain civil processes and enforce court orders.



Santa Barbara County Sheriff Civil Unit
Physical Address: 1105 Santa Barbara Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Mailing: PO Box 690
Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Phone: (805) 568-2900
Fax: (805) 568-2909





Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Civil Unit
Physical Address: 312-O East Cook Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Mailing: PO Box 5049
Santa Maria, CA 93456
Phone: 805-346-7430
Fax: 805-346-7437




1. Sheriff’s Sales of Real and Personal Property

The Sheriff’s Civil Bureau conducts auctions as a means of satisfying an unpaid money judgment out of the sale of Real or Personal Property belonging to the Judgment Debtor. The sale process can also be used to enforce a lien against Real property under foreclosure.

Current listings:

No current listings

2. Sheriff’s Sale of Forfeited Vehicles

The Sheriff’s Civil Bureau conducts auctions on vehicles that have been subject to forfeiture pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 14607.6 The minimum bid on a forfeited vehicle is $750.00 and Credit Bids will not be accepted.

Any person may bid on and purchase property at a Sheriff’s Sale with the exception of employees of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and their immediate family. Department employees may not have an interest in any purchase.

Prospective bidders should refer to the California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 701.510 through 701.680 for provisions governing the terms, conditions and effect of the sale as well as the liability of defaulting bidders.

The date, time and location are contained in the Notice of Sale along with a general description of the property to be sold. The Sheriff is selling the Judgment Debtor(s) right, title and interest in the property only. It is the responsibility of the potential buyer to conduct the appropriate research to ascertain the debtor’s interest in the property being sold.

The Sheriff makes no guaranty or warranty as to the condition or value of any item sold. All items are sold as is.

Sheriff’s sales are made at public auction to the highest bidder. Bidders must have cash, certified check or cashier’s check made out to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff with them at the time of the sale for the full amount of their bid or the deposit required for a credit bid pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 701.590

Credit Bid

The successful bidder must immediately pay the Sheriff the following amount on a Credit bid:

Personal Property
Minimum Amount
Real Property
Minimum Amount
$2,500 or less
Full bid amount
$5,000 or less
Full bid amount
$2,501- $25,000
$25001 or over
$50001 or over

Creditor’s Bid

The Judgment Creditor may bid against all or part of their judgment, except that unpaid levy costs, preferred labor claims, exempt proceeds, and any other claim that is required by statute to be satisfied, shall be paid in cash or by certified check or cashier’s check.

You should call the Sheriff’s Civil Bureau the day prior to the sale to confirm that it has not been postponed or cancelled.

3. Collecting Your Judgement

This section will provide you information about how to obtain a California Judgement

Collecting a money judgement 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 Department employees are forbidden by law to give legal advice, and the following are only general guidelines provided to assist you.


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.


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 Department and disbursed as collected, after taking out a $10.00 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.


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.

Advanced Deposit: 8 Hours $240.00, 12 Hours $400.00

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.


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. Check with your local library or bookstore for more detailed information.



4. Collecting Out of State Judgement

This section will provide you information about how to obtain a California Judgement based on a judgement in another state.

A California Sheriff is not bound by and may not execute or enforce by levy any process issued by a court of a sister state. On its face, such process is patently beyond the jurisdiction of the out-of-state court; no state, and therefore, no court of such state can exercise jurisdiction beyond its own borders.

To obtain a California judgment based on a sister state judgment, a creditor must file an application, with an authenticated copy of the sister state judgment, in the Superior Court.

The clerk then issues the notice, which the creditor must serve promptly on the debtor. Under certain circumstances, a writ of execution may issue before service of the notice. The notice allows the debtor 30 days to move to vacate the judgment and prevent issuance of the writ or to obtain relief if already issued. The procedure allows money judgments only. (Ca Civil Code of Procedure 1710.15, et. seq.).

The Sheriff may serve a summons, citation, etc., issued from courts in other states. In some states service must be specifically authorized by the court, clerk, or sheriff in that state. Service on a Sunday is void under the laws of many other states. Before serving an out-of-state process, ascertain whether it would be a valid service.

Some states require a Notary or Clerk of the Courts seal on the proof of service. Check with the plaintiff as to which acknowledgment of proof is required from their state. A ten-dollar ($10.00) fee is required for all notarized proof of service signatures.

5. Eviction Process Through Superior Court

This brief procedural guide will assist you in understanding the eviction process.

When Tenants are behind in their rent, this is an accepted practice to follow:

A. Serve a three (3) day notice to pay rent or quit. These forms are available at a stationary store. At the same time, it is recommended to serve a thirty (30) day notice terminating tenancy, if you want them out anyway:

Service may be accomplished in any of the following manners:

  1. Personally serve each tenant over the age of (18)
  2. Post a notice for each tenant on the door of the property and mail a copy, postage prepaid, to their last known address.
  3. Have the Sheriff’s Department Civil Bureau serve to notices for you. {this service is for a fee}.

On the back of the original notice(s), write whom was served, when, where and the mailing, and take this to court.

B. If the tenants have not paid for nor moved within three (3) days after service, on the fourth (4) day, go to Superior Court having jurisdiction and file an unlawful detainer action (summons & complaint). These forms are available at the Superior Court. These forms MUST be served personally on the tenants. The original summons and proofs of service must be filed with the Court.

Service may be accomplished in the following manner.

  1. Any person over the age of (18) years and NOT a party to the action, may serve.Have the Sheriff’s Civil Bureau serve for you. This service is for a fee.If the tenants have not responded to the court within five (5) days from service, return to the court and request a Writ of Possession. This paper MUST be served by the Sheriff’s Civil Bureau. This action requires a fee.
  2. Upon receipt of the Writ of Possession, the Civil Bureau will lawfully serve the Writ. The tenants will be given approximately [ 5 to 7 ] days to move out. If they have not removed themselves from the premises, the Sheriff’s Civil Bureau will see to it that they are removed on Eviction day.
  3. When the Sheriff sets the date of the actual eviction, you will be notified of the date & time. You or your agent must be at the location of the eviction to sign for peaceful possession of the premisses.
  4. The Sheriff’s Civil Bureau does not remove personal property. If property is left at the premises, it is recommended that you seek counsel for your responsibilities to that property.
  5. It is recommended that the locks be changed to prevent further entry by defendants.

NOTE: This is a very brief procedural guide to assist you in understanding the eviction process. If you have further nee of information, please contact counsel. At anytime throughout the process, other legal actions can be undertaken by the defendants (tenant(s)). If this occurs, also seek counsel.


6. Cost of Services

A listing of the various charges for services.
Click here for SBSO Civil Unit Fee Schedule


General Civil Instructions Form
Provides a form allowing you to instruct the Sheriff’s Civil Bureau as to the service of small claims, summons & complaint, notices, and other types of legal actions.

Eviction Information Sheet
Provides a form allowing you to instruct the Sheriff’s Civil Unit regarding the service of an eviction notice.

Deposit Account/ Escrow Account/ Third Party Form
Provides a form allowing you to instruct the Sheriff’s Civil Unit regarding a levy on a bank account.

Levy Upon Debtor’s Going Business Form
Provides a form allowing you to instruct the Sheriff’s Civil Unit regarding service on a debtor’s business by using a “till tap” process, a “keeper installation,” or a “levy and sell.”

Vehicle Levy Instruction Sheet Form
Provides a form allowing you to instruct the Sheriff’s Civil Unit to Levy and Sell a Debtor’s vehicle.

Electronic Writ Declaration
Required form to accompany the electronically filed writ.

Application for Earnings Withholding
Confidential Statement of Judgment Debtors SSN

Other information:
Landlord Tenant Guide
Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgements
Judicial Forms (California Courts)


Tell me about the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Civil Unit.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Court Services Division, was established in October of 1996. There are 2 Civil Bureau Offices to serve you in the county. Each office is fully staffed to serve you four (4) days a week from 7:30 am to 5:00pm. We are a full service operation, from a complete business levy to the service of a small claims action and everything in between. Our staff looks forward to serving your needs.
Can I collect my judgment with all the fees associated with the judgment?
Yes, you can collect associated costs (court fees & sheriff fees). You cannot collect for time off from work to pursue the collection.
How long is my judgment good for?
Your Judgment is good for ten (10) years with an extension for ten (10) more years.
Is the Sheriff’s Civil Unit the same as the Marshal’s Office?
Yes, in California the Sheriff, Marshal & Constable can enforce all civil judgments issued by any court.
Does a Writ issued to enforce a judgment require that the county that is to do the enforcement be named?
Yes, the writ must be addressed to the county that is to enforcement the judgment.
Can I drop my civil papers off at any Sheriff’s office for service?
Yes & No. Yes, you can drop your civil papers at any one of the 2 Civil Bureau offices. No, you cannot leave civil papers at Patrol offices for service.
Who sets the fees for service cost?
The fees are set by the California State Assembly and subject to change every Jan. 1st.
When will my civil papers be served?
The Civil Bureau attempts to serve every civil paper received within 24 hours.
Can the Sheriff’s Civil Unit guarantee the paper will be served?
No, we cannot make a guarantee that every civil paper received will be served. There are reasons why we can’t serve every paper. The person(s) may move, or there is not enough time for service or for a host of other reasons.
What are the working days and hours of the Civil Unit?
Each Civil Bureau office is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Our deputies attempt service of process from 6:30am until 6:00pm on a random basis throughout the week.
How many attempts does the Civil Unit make, before they return my civil papers Not Found or No Service?
We make at least 3 attempts (morning, afternoon and evening) on different days.
After I have a judgment against someone, what are some of the different ways I can use to collect on it?
You can do a:
1. Earnings Withholding Order – attach employee’s payroll
2. Bank Garnishment – attach funds held in a savings or checking account
3. Vehicle Levy – attach a defendant’s vehicle and sell it at an auction
What is a Till Tap?
The Civil Bureau goes into a business to recover your judgment by removing the funds from the business cash register.
What is a business levy?
In a business levy, the Civil Bureau goes into a business to recover your judgment by taking over the business inventory and conducting an auction to recover the funds.
What is a three (3) day notice?
A three (3) day notice is used to remind your renters that they are past due on paying their monthly rent. The official name of the notice is 3 DAY NOTICE TO PAY RENT OR QUIT.
Can a three (3) day notice & thirty (30) day notice be served at the same time?
Yes. If you really want the rental property back, the 3-day notice will get your past due moneys and let the tenant know they have only 30 days of rental time left before they must move.

Notice regarding legal proceedings

Section 24004 of the Government Code prohibits the Sheriff or Marshal and their staff to practice law or assist in the preparation of legal document.

For further information about the courthouses click here

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