Legal Tools To Collect a Judgment in California

Most plaintiffs are unaware of the difficulties that may arise when they attempt to collect a judgment in California. To start, just because a judge grants an order for judgment does not mean that the plaintiff will definitely be compensated. The plaintiff must take specific steps to collect the judgment awarded. Below are tips on how a plaintiff can successfully collect a judgment. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about how to collect a judgment in California.

Encourage the Debtor to Pay the Judgment

California state law allows plaintiffs to begin to collect their judgment 30 days after entry of the judgment. The court will give you legal documentation (example – court order) which describes the judgment you are entitled to collect and the date in which the debtor must pay you by. You are responsible for collecting the judgment. The court will not help you collect your Judgment.

To start, you can give the debtor with an address to mail your payment to. It may be in your best interest to offer the debtor an incentive to send you the money promptly. For example, you may offer to reduce the judgment by 5% if the debtor pays you before the specified deadline. Be careful in offering a reduced judgment. If you agree to accept less compensation that what you are owed, you will give up your right to collect the whole amount.

As you go about collecting the judgment, you should keep thorough records. Keep any correspondence exchanged between you and the debtor. Keep track of all your expenses so you can later be reimbursed and calculate interest owed in the event the debtor does not pay you on time. You are allowed to include added interest and costs incurred to collect the Judgment upon proper application to the court.

Legal Tools to Collect a Judgment in California

There are several legal tools you can use to collect a judgment in California. You can file an earnings withholding order, bank levy, vehicle levy, till tap levy, or a keeper levy to collect a judgment.

An earnings withholding order requires an employer to send the Sheriff a portion of the defendant’s net earnings each payday. A bank levy allows you to get money from the debtor’s bank account to satisfy the judgment. You will need to get a court writ to perform a bank levy. A vehicle levy allows a creditor to sell the vehicle at auction and use the proceeds to satisfy the judgment. A  till tap or keeper levy allows you to put a “keeper” in the debtor’s place of business and collect income monies the business receives “on-the-spot.”

At A People’s Choice, we can help you identify various options available to you to decide which one is the best to go after to satisfy your judgment.

Do Not Use Illegal Means to Collect Your Judgment

However you go about collecting your judgment in California, do not use illegal means to do so. There are federal and state laws that protect debtors from creditor harassment. Make sure you do not harass the debtor about paying the judgment.

Collecting an Out-of-State Judgment (Sister-State Judgment)

Under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments act, you can enforce a Judgment issued in another state if the debtor/defendant has assets in California. You can apply to have a California court enter a “sister-state judgment.” This will allow you to  go ahead with all legal means available in California to collect the amount due just as if the Judgment had been originally entered by a California Court.

The process to domesticate a judgment is very similar to filing a lawsuit.  Application is made to the court and the defendants are served with the sister state judgment. At that point they can challenge the judgment, but only on limited statutory grounds. If the debtor/defendant does not timely file opposition to the request, you can go ahead with your collection efforts.

Here at A People’s Choice, we have helped thousands of people collect judgments against California debtors. Review procedures for collecting a judgment to begin the process. Call 1-800-747-2780 to speak with a representative about your matter.

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By |2018-01-18T15:47:35+00:00May 25th, 2015|Civil litigation|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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