2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 16 - Sheriffs
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 15-16-10. (See Editor's notes.) Duties; Penalties; Electronic Storage

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-16-10 (2021)
  1. It is the duty of the sheriff:
    1. To execute and return the processes and orders of the courts and of officers of competent authority, if not void, with due diligence, when delivered to him for that purpose, according to this Code;
    2. To attend, by himself or his deputy, upon all sessions of the superior court of the county and also upon sessions of the probate court whenever required by the judge thereof and, while the courts are in session, never to leave same without the presence of himself or his deputy, or both, if required;
    3. To attend, in the same manner specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection, at the place or places of holding an election at the county site, on the day of an election, from the opening to the closing of the polls, and to take under his charge all subordinate officers present, as police to preserve order;
    4. To publish sales, citations, and other proceedings as required by law and to keep a file of all newspapers in which his official advertisements appear, in the manner required of clerks of the superior courts;
    5. To keep an execution docket wherein he must enter a full description of all executions delivered to him and the dates of their delivery, together with all his actions thereon, and to have the same ready for use in any court of his county;
    6. To keep a book in which shall be entered a record of all sales made by process of court or by agreement of the parties under the sanction of the court, describing accurately the property and the process under which sold, the date of the levy and sale, the purchaser, and the price;
    7. To receive from the preceding sheriff all unexecuted writs and processes and proceed to execute the same; to carry into effect any levy or arrest made by a predecessor; to put purchasers into possession, and to make titles to purchasers at his or her predecessor's sales, when not done by his or her predecessor;
    8. To perform such other duties as are or may be imposed by law or which necessarily appertain to his or her office;
    9. To exercise the same duties, powers, and arrest authority within municipalities which such officer exercises in the unincorporated areas of counties; and
    10. To develop and implement a comprehensive plan for the security of the county courthouse and any courthouse annex. Prior to the implementation of any security plan, the plan shall be submitted to the chief judge of the superior court of the circuit wherein the courthouse or courthouse annex is located for review. The chief judge shall have 30 days to review the original or any subsequent security plan. The chief judge may make modifications to the original or any subsequent security plan. The sheriff shall provide to the county governing authority the estimated cost of any security plan and a schedule for implementation 30 days prior to adoption of any security plan. A comprehensive plan for courthouse security shall be considered a confidential matter of public security. Review of a proposed security plan by the governing authority shall be excluded from the requirements of Code Section 50-14-1. Such security plan shall also be excluded from public disclosure pursuant to paragraph (25) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-18-72. The sheriff shall be the official custodian of the comprehensive courthouse security plan and shall determine who has access to such plan and any such access and review shall occur in the sheriff's office or at a meeting of the county governing authority held as provided in paragraph (4) of subsection (b) of Code Section 50-14-3; provided, however, that the sheriff shall make the original security plan available upon request for temporary, exclusive review by any judge whose courtroom or chambers is located within the courthouse or courthouse annex or by any commissioner of the county in which the courthouse or courthouse annex is located. The sheriff shall be responsible to conduct a formal review of the security plan not less than every four years.
  2. If any sheriff or deputy fails to comply with any provision of subsection (a) of this Code section, he or she shall be fined for a contempt as the clerk of superior court is fined in similar cases. Code Section 15-16-26 shall also apply to sheriffs.
  3. In all counties of this state having a population of not less than 625,000 nor more than 725,000 according to the United States decennial census of 2000 or any future such census, it shall be the duty of the sheriffs of such counties to receive, confine, feed, and care for all persons charged with the violation of any ordinances of such counties in the same manner as persons charged with an indictable offense, whether such person charged with the violation of an ordinance is being held pending a hearing before the recorder's courts of such counties or has been sentenced by the recorder's courts to imprisonment in the county jail.
  4. Nothing in this Code section shall restrict or otherwise prohibit a sheriff or a deputy sheriff or clerk acting under the authority of a sheriff from electing to store for computer retrieval any or all records, dockets, books, indices, or files; nor shall a sheriff or a deputy sheriff or clerk acting under the authority of a sheriff be prohibited from combining or consolidating any records, dockets, books, indices, or files in connection with the maintenance of any records of the kind specified or required in this Code section or any other law, provided that any automated or computerized record-keeping method or system shall provide for the systematic and safe preservation and retrieval of all such records, dockets, books, indices, or files. When the sheriff or a deputy sheriff or clerk acting under the authority of the sheriff elects to store for computer retrieval any or all records, the same data elements used in a manual system shall be used, and the same integrity and security maintained.

(Laws 1799, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 574; Laws 1810, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 577; Laws 1818, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 858; Laws 1820, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 480; Laws 1823, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 52; Ga. L. 1853-54, p. 28, § 4; Code 1863, §§ 336, 340; Code 1868, §§ 397, 401; Code 1873, §§ 361, 366; Code 1882, §§ 361, 366; Civil Code 1895, §§ 4380, 4386; Ga. L. 1905, p. 106, § 1; Civil Code 1910, §§ 4914, 4920; Code 1933, §§ 24-2813, 24-2814; Ga. L. 1964, p. 2885, § 1; Ga. L. 1981, p. 3, § 2; Ga. L. 1981, p. 4238, § 1; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 15; Ga. L. 1982, p. 2107, § 14; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 15; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1230; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1688, § 1; Ga. L. 2000, p. 844, § 1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1473, § 1; Ga. L. 2006, p. 560, § 1/SB 462; Ga. L. 2012, p. 173, § 2-7/HB 665; Ga. L. 2012, p. 218, § 4/HB 397.)

Cross references.

- Budget for implementing security plans subject to approval by the governing authority, § 36-81-11.

Service of process by coroner when sheriff disqualified, § 45-16-8.

For application of this statute in 2020 and 2021, see Executive Orders,,,,,,,,,,,, and

A listing of Executive Orders issued in 2020 and 2021 can be found at https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action/executive-orders.

Law reviews.

- For survey article on local government law, see 59 Mercer L. Rev. 285 (2007). For article on the 2012 amendment of this Code section, see 29 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 139 (2012). For note, "Finding Immunity: Manders v. Lee and the Erosion of 1983 Liability," see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 1505 (2004).



  • General Consideration
  • Warrant Requirement
  • Custody
  • Practice and Procedure
  • Execution of Process
  • Removal


Sheriff has right and duty to enforce laws.

- In exercising these duties and powers and acting as a conservator of the peace within the county, a sheriff has the right and duty to enforce the laws enacted for the protection of the lives, persons, property, health, and morals of the people. 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 77-83.

Sheriff has all common law duties and powers.

- This provision has been interpreted to include all common law duties and powers of sheriffs, except as modified by statute. 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 77-83.

Authority of sheriff to enforce criminal laws.

- This section is understood by the Georgia Supreme Court as authorizing the sheriff to enforce the criminal laws generally, and in particular the traffic laws, and in the course of this enforcement to make arrests. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-385.

Sheriff authorized to enforce traffic regulations.

- Former Code 1933, §§ 24-2813, 24-2814 and Ga. L. 1937-38, Ex. Sess., p. 558, § 9 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-16-10 and40-13-30) encompass an authorization to the sheriff to enforce speed limits as well as other traffic regulations. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-385.

County sheriff's department may enforce ordinances prohibiting trucks over ten wheels from using residential roads within county except when making temporary deliveries. 1996 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U96-17.

Sheriff need not investigate accidents on private property.

- There is no specific statutory mandate which would require a county sheriff to investigate an accident occurring on private property. 1968 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 68-206.

Presence of sheriff at polling place when necessary for preservation of order.

- Sheriff or deputy sheriff may remain within 250 feet of a polling place on a primary or election day even though their presence is not at the request of an election official as long as the sheriff determines such presence to be necessary for preservation of order. 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 77-83.

Court and sheriff responsible for ensuring safety of court.

- Court, assisted by the sheriff of the county, is responsible for undertaking measures necessary to ensure the safety of the court during a habeas corpus proceeding; however, this does not relieve the Board of Corrections from any of the Board's constitutional duty for custody of inmates. 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 73-57.

Sheriff required to execute fieri facias irrespective of fee differential.

- If any fieri facias is delivered to the sheriff for execution and the sheriff is paid in advance by the party wishing the fieri facias executed, the difference between the sheriff's fee and the constable's fee for such execution, then the sheriff is bound and required to execute the fieri facias. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-63.

Execution and return of processes and order of magistrate court.

- Sheriff and the sheriff's deputies are not authorized to execute and return the processes and orders of a magistrate court when that court has an appointed constable. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-16.

Order of contempt is order of court.

- Order of contempt issuing from a justice of the peace (now magistrate) court is an order of a court within the meaning of this section. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-63.

Separation of duties between justice of the peace (now magistrate) and sheriff.

- See 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 6.

Misconduct sufficient for removal may not constitute grounds for quo warranto.

- Misconduct sufficient as grounds for removal under former Code 1933, §§ 24-2724, 24-2813, and 24-2814 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-6-82 and15-16-10) would not constitute grounds for quo warranto unless such misconduct resulted in conviction and consequent loss of civil rights. 1954-56 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 116.

No provision is made for bailiffs in probate court. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-10.

Service as legislator and deputy sheriff.

- A member of the General Assembly may not also serve as a deputy sheriff because simultaneously serving as a legislator and a deputy sheriff violates the Georgia Constitution's separation of powers provision and potentially violates other constitutional provisions and common law rules governing conflicts of interest. 2018 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U18-3.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 70 Am. Jur. 2d, Sheriffs, Police, and Constables, § 30 et seq.


- 80 C.J.S., Sheriffs and Constables, §§ 34, 206.


- Execution: effect of return made after return day, 2 A.L.R. 181.

Steps to be taken by officer before resale upon default of purchaser at judicial or execution sale, 24 A.L.R. 1330.

Mistreatment of prisoner as ground for removal of sheriff or other police officer, 100 A.L.R. 1401.

Liability of officer (or sureties on his bond) who conducted sale of property under execution, or other process, to creditors, other than one for whom sale was made, for failure to comply with statutory requirements in making sale, 125 A.L.R. 1147.

What amounts to false return of execution or attachment; justification of alleged false return, 157 A.L.R. 194.

Civil liability of one making false or fraudulent return of process, 31 A.L.R.3d 1393.

Immunity of public officer from liability for injuries caused by negligently released individual, 5 A.L.R.4th 773.

Inadequacy of price as basis for setting aside execution or sheriff's sale - modern cases, 5 A.L.R.4th 794.

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