What is the Constable's Authority?
The onstable was mandated in 1836 by Article 5, Section 18 of the Texas Constitution, which states that in each justice of the peace precinct, a constable shall be elected.
A constable is a licensed, commissioned peace officer, elected by county constituents every four years for a particular area (precinct) of that county. Each constable office is a separate, individual county department and law enforcement agency, independent of all other county departments, elected officials and law enforcement agencies.
In accordance with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, constables have the same duties and powers as any police officers and sheriffs, and may enforce all criminal and traffic laws and conduct criminal investigations. In addition, by statute, constables must serve all warrants, precepts and civil process lawfully directed to them, and therefore the constable is the chief process server for the justice court. Constables are also required by law to be present, or ensure one of their deputy constables are present, during hearings held by the justice of the peace.
In 1954, a challenge was made to change the constables' status as peace officers. It was upheld under article 2.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They are commissioned by the Governor of Texas as law enforcement agencies just as the Sheriff's Department or Texas Department of Public Safety.
Constables are associate members of the Texas Department of Public Safety under section 411.009(a) of the Government Code. Their "original" jurisdiction is anywhere in the county of election and is statewide in most criminal as well as civil matters.
To meet the challenges and demands of taking on the full responsibilities of peace officers and the added liabilities of processing civil cases, Texas constables MUST be licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education by attending a basic police academy, which is a 640 hour school at this time.
Code of Criminal Procedures Art. 2.12. WHO ARE PEACE OFFICERS. The following are peace officers:
(2) constables, deputy constables, and those reserve deputy constables who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code;
Local Goverment Code Sec. 86.021. GENERAL POWERS AND DUTIES.
(a) A constable shall execute and return as provided by law each process, warrant, and precept that is directed to the constable and is delivered by a lawful officer. Notices required by Section 24.005, Property Code, relating to eviction actions are process for purposes of this section that may be executed by a constable.
(b) A constable may execute any civil or criminal process throughout the county in which the constable's precinct is located and in other locations as provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law.
(c) A constable expressly authorized by statute to perform an act or service, including the service of civil or criminal process, citation, notice, warrant, subpoena, or writ, may perform the act or service anywhere in the county in which the constable's precinct is located.
(d) Regardless of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, all civil process may be served by a constable in the constable's county or in a county contiguous to the constable's county, except that a constable who is a party to or interested in the outcome of a suit may not serve any process related to the suit. All civil process served by a constable at any time or place is presumed to be served in the constable's official capacity if under the law the constable may serve that process in the constable's official capacity. A constable may not under any circumstances retain a fee paid for serving civil process in the constable's official capacity other than the constable's regular salary or compensation. Any fee paid to a constable for serving civil process in the constable's official capacity shall be deposited with the county treasurer of the constable's county.
(e) The constable shall attend each justice court held in the precinct.