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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Attorney
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If I win a judgement in small claims court and the loser just

Resolved Question:

If I win a judgement in small claims court and the loser just does not pay, how do I go about COLLECTING the judgement? What if they have, or claim to have, NO ASSETS/PROPERTY to garnish? I find it hard to believe if thats the case that they merely just are off the hook (PS I live in Florida)
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

I understand that this is hard to believe, but it is true. That is why, one thing that attorneys do before they take a claim against someone, is to make sure that that person is not judgment proof (meaning that they have no assets or property).

All the courts can do is give you a right against the property a person has. The court can't jail the person for having a debt (we abolished debtors prison many years ago).

You can take the judgment and attempt to garnish income (meaning wages from a job) and/or put a lien on their home, bank account or other property. That is really all you can do, in case the come into some money at a later date.

It is very common for credit card companies, even when they know that the debtor has no funds, to sue for the judgment alone....just so that they can have it in place if the person receives an inheritance or something that would pay off the judgment.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Does the person collecting unemployment qualify for wage garnishment? I have tried to collect the debt via demand letters, in writing...the 1st one elicited a phone call back of "im not paying you back, if you write me another letter i'll have my dad arrest you for harassment" (i KNOW a formal, non threatening demand letter does NOT qualify as harassment.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Unemployment is exempt from garnishment.

I would go back to court and ask the court for a debtor's exam. If you go on line, you can find a good list of questions that the court will require this person to answer, under threat of contempt of court.

Be sure to tell the court what this person said when you made a lawful attempt to collect. The court might hold the person in contempt based on that alone.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
they can't put a lien either on, lets say, his father's wages/assets? Also, at the very least, having a judgement against him and not paying it can mess up his credit at least? It feels like the system in Florida, maybe in other states too, makes the victim do far too much and gives the option to let the scofflaw off the hook! He also violated FS 817.03 Making false statement to obtain property or credit, which is listed as a misdemeanor, HOWEVER, the police refuse to see it that way and don't arrest him.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
No, you can't put a lien on his parent's property based on a judgment against him, unless he is a minor (at which point, his parents should have been part of the claim in the first place).

I can't make the police charge him. Neither can you. All anyone can ever do is report what they believe to be a crime to the police and the police, along with the prosecutor, decides what they will do with the information. That is universally true.

Yes, having a judgment that is unpaid can effect his credit.

As for the justice system as a whole, yes, it is in place to protect the accused. Unfortunately, that is how our system is set up. I can't really say much about that. It's the system we are born into.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well, I will tell you this...up until just recently, as far as I know...he was NOT unemployed, so he has prior wages and a bank account. I would like to believe that somehow works in my favor but, still seems as if he'd find a loophole around that...also, are the rules in regards XXXXX XXXXX claims pretty much the same in every state when it comes to collecting on a judgement? And i agree that i don't think the judge will like his "you lost out on your money, write here again and i'm gonna have you arrested for harassment"...although i do not understand how he could hold him in contempt for that? Sorry for so many questions, its just that ive tried to get answers on this from many people and most don't realize in small claims, its not about "winning", its about collecting...
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.

If he has prior wages in a bank account, you can garnish that account.

But for that, you need to know the account information, which means that you need a debtors exam like I mentioned before.

A judge can find a reason to hold people in contempt, I assure you. You just have to get the person back in court, which you can do and have a right to do through a debtors exam.


And yes, collections is the same everywhere.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Is a debtor's exam also another fee for me to pay? Because, obviously, i wouldnt have access to knowing another person's bank acct info.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
That depends on a number of factors. If the person turned in the Judgment information required by the court, so that you wouldn't have to do a debtor's exam, then doing another one would likely incur a fee.

If the person didn't return that information to the court, then you can do the debtors exam without a fee.

You'll have to get this answer from the clerk of the court.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
OK- thank you. ONE more question and i'll let you go-if i go to his door myself to demand payment (not violently or anything) i could get arrested for trespassing right?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, you can. You're not allowed to do that sort of thing. You can ask the Sheriff to go to his house to confiscate any property that you discover through the debtor's exam, in some instances.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
and if in the debtor's exam, if it's deemed he's got stolen property, he would go to jail...but , my collecting the judgement would be harder..altho i'd gladly take that tradeoff.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 4 years ago.

I'm sorry that it took me this long to response. When you said that you were asking one final question, I took that to mean that you were done after I answered that question, so I left to have dinner with my family.


In response to your further question, if they ever discover that he has stolen property, yes, he could go to jail.

I think that you're expecting more of this process though that is reality.

They will simply require him to provide information about his assets.

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