Can a Creditor Get Me Sent to Prison?

DebtA long time ago there was such a thing as debtors’ prison. Anyone who didn’t pay their bills could end up spending time behind bars.

Today, the average person faces only financial repercussions for unpaid debts. These can be fairly extreme – wage garnishment, seizing of bank accounts, liens on property – but rarely does anyone go to jail because they haven’t paid their bills.

Unfortunately, even though there’s no official debtors’ prison in modern day America, it is possible that the legal action a creditor takes against a person can end up in that person spending time in jail.

How is this possible?

Dealing with Aggressive Debt Collection

There are laws in place that protect against abusive debt collection efforts. Though debt collectors are still able to make life miserable, there are limits and if these limits are crossed it can jeopardize the collector’s ability to collect on the debt.

What many people don’t realize is that despite no official prison for debtors, there are ways debt can lead you to jail. Aggressive and knowledgeable collection law firms can use the contempt power of the civil justice system to throw you in jail for not paying a private debt.

It’s a process and you won’t be doing time for debt – officially – but failing to miss court dates can result in sanctions and you being held in contempt of court. This can lead to a write of bodily attachment, which can then lead to jail time if you’re arrested. And chances are the judge will set your bail at the amount of the judgment against you.

You’re now responsible for the original debt, as well as attorneys’ fees, interest, late fees, and every other cost that is linked to the debt and your current situation.

Even if your original debt was just a few thousand dollars, you could be looking at a bill of $50,000 or $60,000. And all of it will need to be paid to get out of jail.

If you’d like to know more about a writ of bodily attachment visit the US Marshalls Service website.

It’s important to note, state and federal government can imprison you for a debt. If you have an unpaid tax bill it can lead to prison time, so working with an experienced attorney is even more important than if you’re dealing only with consumer debt.

How Can You Avoid Jail Time for a Debt?

Paying the debt is the simplest way to avoid any risk of going to jail over it, but that’s likely not an option for most people.

Working out a payment plan might also work, but not all debt collectors are willing to negotiate with you. Some do, but others know they stand to get more money if they refuse and take you to court.

Being sued over a debt isn’t the worst thing that can happen, but you need to pay close attention to your obligations. You must attend any court dates that are scheduled and make good faith efforts to remedy your situation. If you do this, the odds you’ll be sent to jail for the debt are extremely slim.

Your final option, if you want to avoid court and still protect yourself from jail, is to file for bankruptcy. Depending on your situation, this can eliminate the debt and relieve you of other financial burdens.

For more information or to speak to someone about how bankruptcy can help, contact R. Flay Cabiness, II, P.C. at (912) 554-3774 (Brunswick, GA); (912) 375-5620 (Hazlehurst, GA) or; (912)-554-3756 (Jesup, GA).

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Brunswick, GA 31520
Tel: (912) 554-3774 | Fax: (912) 262-0285

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Hazlehurst, Georgia
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Hazlehurst, GA 31539
Tel: (912) 375-5620 | Fax: (912) 375-2681

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Jesup, Georgia
198 S. Macon St.
Jesup, GA 31545
Tel: (912) 554-3756 | 888.280.1437

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