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What do sheriffs do?

Information about the role of the sheriff in Victorian law.

Sheriffs in Victoria are responsible for executing criminal and civil warrants that have been ordered by a court. Sheriffs can be recognised because they wear a uniform.

The duties of a sheriff include enforcing payment of:

  • infringements (or on-the-spot fines) that have been registered with the Infringements Court
  • fines that has been ordered by a court
  • debts after a Court order has been made.

The Sheriff is also able to:

  • serve a family violence intervention order application on a respondent (from 3 May 2021 until 3 May 2023)
  • arrest someone so that they can be brought before a court
  • enter, search and seize and take possession of property
  • require a person to give their name and address or direct them to do something
  • assist police at road blocks.

Difference between civil and criminal warrants

A warrant is a command and authorisation issued by a court to its officers (bailiff, sheriff) or to the police force that directs them to take some action.

A civil warrant is a warrant that is issued by a court that directs a sheriff to seize and sell property, take possession (usually of real estate), deliver or seize property under the enforcement provision of the Magistrates' Court Act 1986 (Vic) or any other warrant issued as a civil proceeding.

A criminal warrant is a warrant that has been issued by the Supreme or County or Magistrates' courts for the arrest of a person and any other warrants that are issued in a criminal proceeding. It includes an infringement warrant for the enforcement of unpaid on-the-spot fines.

More information

Legislation

Sheriff Act 2009 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines a civil and a criminal warrant
  • s. 7—powers of the sheriff
  • Part 3—Sheriff's enforcement functions and powers

See Sheriff Act 2009 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Magistrates' Court Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 111—enforcement of orders (warrant to seize property)

See Magistrates' Court Act 1989 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 205A—service by the sheriff

See Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Department of Justice and Community Safety

This site has information about the powers and duties of sheriffs.

See Department of Justice and Community Safety—Sheriffs in Victoria(opens in a new window).

Updated