Preventing Execution of Civil Process: Texas Penal Code §38.16

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Preventing Execution of Civil Process law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you prevented a civil process server from serving someone a civil suit.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 38.16. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 1995.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Preventing Execution of Civil Process law under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 38 “Obstructing Governmental Operation.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Preventing Execution of Civil Process below.

What is the current Texas law about Preventing Execution of Civil Process?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Penal Code Section §38.16 as follows:[1]

(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.

How can I be charged with a Preventing Execution of Civil Process offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 38.16(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, Preventing Execution of Civil Process charges have a two-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Preventing Execution of Civil Process offense?

A conviction for Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Texas is punished as a Class C misdemeanor,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Preventing Execution of Civil Process, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[4]

Note, however, that judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[5]

What level of crime is Preventing Execution of Civil Process in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Preventing Execution of Civil Process as a Class C misdemeanor.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §38.16. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^3. Texas Penal Code §38.16(c)^4. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^5. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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