Civil Unit – FAQ’s



Tell me about the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Civil Unit.

The Civil Unit was established in October of 1996.  It is a branch of the Judicial Services bureau of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. The Civil Unit is dedicated to civil enforcement and process of service and has two Civil Offices, one serving northern Santa Barbara County and one serving southern Santa Barbara County. We can assist residents and businesses in Santa Barbara County with the service of various types of civil process such as temporary restraining orders, evictions, wage garnishments, bank levies, summons, claims, real and personal property levies and sales.  Our staff looks forward to assisting you.

Can the Civil Unit give me legal advice on my case?
No, we do not give legal advice. 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. You can check out the self help links located on our page for useful information.
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 enforce the judgment.
Can I drop my civil papers off at any Sheriff’s office for service?
You can only bring your civil papers to one of the two Civil Unit offices during our business hours. You cannot leave civil papers at Sheriff 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 a reasonable time frame.
Can the Sheriff’s Civil Unit guarantee the paper will be served?

No, we cannot make a guarantee that every paper will be served.  There are many factors which would prevent a successful service such as the person has moved, there is not enough time for service or the fact that some individuals will actively try to avoid service

How many attempts does the Civil Unit make before they return my civil papers Not Found or No Service?
We make at least three attempts on three different days if given enough time before the last possible date of service.
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 Unit goes into a business to recover your judgment by taking over the business inventory and conducting an auction to recover the funds.
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