Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0940 Page: 1 of 4
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ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
May' 29, 2012
The Honorable Jeff Wentworth pinion No, GA-0940
Chair, Select Committee on Open Government
Texas State Senate Re: Authority of a constable with regard to
Post Office Box 12068 payment of outstanding warrants issued by a
Austin, Texas 78711-2068 justice court (RQ-1024-GA)
Dear Senator Wentworth-
You ask four questions related to a constable's authority to exercise discretion with regard
to the execution of" warrants,. You first ask whether a constable has the "authority within existing
law to offer payment arrangements to, or accept partial payment from, defendants with outstanding
warrants issued by a justice court[.]" Request Letter at 1. A constable is limited to those powers
expressly conferred by or necessarily ilmplied from the constitution and statutes. Tex. At' y (en. Op.
No, GA-0656 (2008) at 1. The Legislature has expressly authorized constables to make collections
on behalf of the county in various circumstances. See, e.g,, TEX, CODE CRI., PROC. ANN. art,
103.003(a) (West Supp, 2011); see also TEX. Loc. GoT CODE ANN. 86.023 (West 2008)
(explaining constable's collection liability); butsee Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-96-03 1, at 2 (concluding that
a constable is not authorized to collect restitution for a bad check). Furthermore, the Legislature has
authorized the courts to waive fees for defendants in certain circumstances. See, e.g., TEX. CODE
CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 45.0491 (West Supp. 2011) (authorizing the waiver of fees for indigent
defendants). However, we find no express authority giving a constable discretion to waive fees,
negotiate payment plans, or accept partial payment from a defendant. When a constable executes
a warrant, he or she is carrying out an order of the court, "As an officer of the court, [constables]
do not have the authority to define objectves in the execution" of the court's orders. Me rritt v,
Harris ry., 775 S.W.2d 1 7, 24 (Tex, App.-Houston 14th Dist,l 1989, writ denied). Thus, absent
express authority to do so, we conclude that existing law does not allow a constable to offer payment
arrangements to, or accept partial payment front, defendants with outstanding warrants issued by a
Your second question asks whether a constable has "authority within existing law to accept
in-person payments (partial or in their entirety) for one offense while not arresting the defendant on
See Letter from Honorable Jeff Wen.worth, Chair, Senate Select Conmm, on Open Gov't, to Honorable Greg
Abbott, Tex. Att'y Gen, at 1 (Nov. 8, 2011), http://www.texasattortnegenetiralgov/opin ("Request Letter")
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0940, text, 2012; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth275836/m1/1/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.