Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-113 Page: 1 of 7
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ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
October 8, 2003
The Honorable Richard J. Miller Opinion No. GA-0113
Bell County Attorney
P.O. Box 1127 Re: Whether a refusal to permit a constable to
Belton, Texas 76513 enter the restricted area of a business in order to
serve civil process constitutes an offense under
section 38.16 of the Penal Code (RQ-0056-GA)
Dear Mr. Miller:
You inquire about the proper construction of section 38.16 of the Penal Code. That statute
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or
knowingly by words or physical action prevents the execution of
any process in a civil cause.
(b) It is an exception to the application of this section that
the actor evaded service of process by avoiding detection.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
TEX. PEN. CODE ANN. 38.16 (Vernon 2003).
You ask that we consider the statute in light of the following fact scenario:
[A] constable sought to serve civil process on X at the corporation
where X was an employee. The constable contacted the business's
personnel director, who then went back into a restricted area of the
business and advised X that the constable was there to serve him
with the process. X declined to come out and accept the paperwork.
When the personnel director advised the constable of this fact, he
refused to allow the constable access into the company's restricted
area to attempt to personally serve X. The constable went to a
justice of the peace and swore out a complaint against the personnel
director for the Class C misdemeanor offense of preventing
execution of [civil] process under Penal Code Section 38.16 ....
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-113, text, 2003; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth275009/m1/1/: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.