Civil Division & Central Records
What is the Civil Division?
The Civil Division consists of deputies and clerks who assist Sheriff Sam Cochran in carrying out his constitutional duties as an agent of the courts. The Division carries out civil court orders, including evictions, ejectments, civil executions, custody and mental health pick up orders, etc. The pistol permits office also operates as part of the Civil Division.
I don’t know where the person is that I need to get served. What can I do?
Our deputies work hard to serve the papers that they receive from Alabama courts. They use various available resources to locate people who need to be served with court papers. However, the process works best when you or your lawyer can provide to the court an up-to-date, daytime address for the person you want to serve. In the event that service is not possible after several attempts, you may want to consult a lawyer about your options with regard to serving the individual via publication in a local newspaper.
Do you serve out of state papers?
We only serve papers for Alabama courts and certain Alabama administrative agencies, such as the Alabama State Bar and the Alabama Department of Revenue. Pursuant to federal law, we handle protection from abuse orders from out of state. If you have a PFA, please have the court clerk mail a certified copy of it for service to Civil Division, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, P.O. Box 113, Mobile, AL 36601.
Do you handle foreclosures?
No. Alabama is a “non-judicial” foreclosure state, meaning that foreclosures take place outside of the court system. The only time the Sheriff’s Office is involved is when an ejectment order is received from a circuit court. That occurs only after the entire foreclosure process is complete.
I want to buy something at a Sheriff’s Sale. How do I do that?
We advertise sales via local newspapers, pursuant to state law. Those advertisements also appear on www.alabamalegals.com. All sales are subject to pre-existing liens. As such, MCSO cannot guarantee clear title to any item sold at a court-ordered Sheriff’s Sale.
I have a lien on an item that you have picked up. What do I do?
MCSO only picks up items pursuant to court order. As such, you may want to consult an attorney to determine what can be filed in court to protect your lien. MCSO cannot stop a sale to protect a lienholder without an order from the court.
I need to evict someone from my rental property. How can I do that?
Under state law, evictions must be filed in Mobile County District Court. It is only after the eviction case is complete and the court clerk has issued a writ of restitution that the Sheriff’s Office can conduct a “set out.” The eviction process is not easy, and securing legal counsel is recommended. You can call the State Bar’s lawyer referral service at 1-800-392-5660. The following website has information about Alabama’s eviction process:
Please note that a court order is needed for law enforcement to remove any person from a residence, even if that person is a relative.
I have my writ from the District Court? What now?
One of our deputies will contact you to set up a time to conduct the set out. The appointment may be rescheduled in the event of inclement weather. It will be your responsibility to secure adequate moving services to move any remaining items from the premises. The deputy will stand by and keep the peace during the move and, if necessary, remove any people from the premises.
As a landlord, what can I do to help make sure the “set out” goes smoothly?
It is important to provide enough manpower to finish moving the tenant’s items out quickly. That reduces the chance for confrontations and other problems, such as bad weather.
Also, please be sure to notify the deputy of any potential safety issues.
Once the deputy arrives on the scene, he/she will check to make sure the address exactly matches the address on the writ.
A typical writ requires that all items in the residence be removed to the curb. The tenant has the option of removing those items from the curb within a reasonable amount of time, usually 24 hours.
It is a good idea to contact your city’s code inspector or environmental enforcement office to let officials know about the eviction. You can then get guidance from city officials as to how to handle the remaining items on the curb. Cooperation with city officials may help prevent you from getting a ticket for an environmental infraction. Our deputy will typically contact Mobile’s 311 service for evictions taking place within the City of Mobile.
I am a tenant who is being evicted. What do I do?
There are agencies that can help. Legal Services Alabama offers free assistance to qualifying tenants facing eviction. The local number for LSA is 251-433-6560.
If the District Court enters a writ against you, you should do your best to move out before the deputy arrives to do a set out. That way, you can move in an organized manner over the course of a few days.
Please understand that longstanding practice requires your items to be placed at the curb during a set out. Some items may have to be temporarily confiscated, as the deputy cannot allow dangerous items to be placed at the curb, such as firearms, medications and alcohol.
My divorce decree says I have custody of my child, but my ex has the child. What do I do?
Under the law, the Sheriff’s Office cannot take a child from one parent to give to another without a very specific and current order directing the Sheriff’s Office to do so. A copy of your divorce decree is not sufficient. You will probably need the assistance of a lawyer to secure a “pick up order.” The State Bar’s lawyer referral service can be reached at 1-800-392-5660.
My car has been picked up by a Deputy Sheriff. How can I get it back?
The Civil Division only picks up vehicles by court order. To get it back, you will either need to file something with the court or make arrangements with the plaintiff who had the vehicle picked up. Or, you can simply pay the full judgment amount to MCSO via cash, money order or certified check. Such funds will then be remitted to the plaintiff. Please keep in mind that the Sheriff’s Office uses the services of vehicle storage companies to hold vehicles during the judicial process. Storage costs accrue on a daily basis and must be paid by whoever ends up with the vehicle at the conclusion of the process.
My property was sold at auction for just $1. What do I do?
The Sheriff’s Office cannot set reserve prices for civil auctions. Only the court can set aside a sale. The Sheriff’s Office does not have the authority to do so on its own.
How do I make a records request?
It is best to make your records request by completing the MCSO Open Records Act Request Form, and follow the instructions provided on this form.
Am I eligible for a concealed carry permit?
There is no way to know the answer to that question without conducting an electronic background check. Common reasons for denial include felony convictions and domestic violence convictions of any type, even domestic misdemeanor convictions. That is due to federal law that prevents persons convicted of felonies and domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms. More information on pistol permit requirements may be found at the page linked below:
I have recently moved to Mobile County from another place in Alabama. Can I transfer my permit?
There is not a statewide concealed carry permit available in Alabama. You will need to apply for a new permit from the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office. You should apply in person at our main office at 510 South Royal Street, Mobile, AL 36603.
How do I get to your office?