TMCEC staff attorneys answer legal questions on the 800 line (1.800.252.3718) every weekday. Below is a question received this week, a summary of TMCEC’s response, and some helpful resources.
800 Line Question: Our court has a backlog of violations issued to corporations and associations. Is it true that we cannot issue warrants for corporations? If so, how do we require appearance and how do we enforce judgments?
TMCEC: The rules for serving corporations are in Chapter 17A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. While warrants for corporations are not prohibited in so many words, no individual may be arrested upon a complaint against a corporation or association, which has the same practical effect. CCP 17A.03(b). However, if a corporation is served through its registered agent for service of process and either fails to appear in response to a summons or appears by counsel and refuses to enter a plea, the corporation is deemed to appear for all purposes and to have entered a plea of not guilty. CCP 17A.04. The court may proceed with trial, judgment, and sentencing in absentia. Enforcing a judgment against a corporation may present an issue given Article 17A.03(b)’s prohibition. However, recall that a municipal court has civil authority to enforce a judgment. CCP 45.047. In addition, the court is instructed to notify the Secretary of State of convictions once they are final and unappealable. CCP 17A.09.
If a charge against a corporate defendant is in your court, the TMCEC Bench Book is a great place to start. Every page of the Bench Book is accessible online, and here (available at the link as well as embedded below) is the chapter specific to Corporations and Associations.