What steps do I have to take?
Once you get your judgment, you should first obtain a judgment lien by recording a Judgment
Lien Certificate with the Department of State. This is not always crucial, but it is a very good idea. We will explain
below why it is a good idea and how you do it.
In order to get the sheriff to levy upon (to seize) the judgment debtor’s property, you must first
locate the property. The sheriff won’t do this for you. Remember that there are many kinds of property the sheriff
can seize. Land and buildings are called real property.Movable things like cars, boats,
furniture, and jewelry are called personal property.
There are some kinds of property the sheriff cannot levy on. The main kind of property the sheriff cannot
seize is a person’s home. A person’s homestead is exempt
from execution. The judgment debtor may also select personal property worth up to $1,000.00
and one motor vehicle worth up to $1,000.00
is exempt property. Only people have exemptions. If your judgment is against a corporation or against a partnership, the sheriff can seize all of its property. Of course, the sheriff can only levy
on property the judgment debtor truly owns-not property owned
by somebody else, such as leased property.
Once you have located the property
the sheriff can seize, you take your judgment to the Clerk of
Court that issued the judgment and ask for a
document called a“Writ of Execution”. This tells the sheriff to seize
property of the judgment debtor to satisfy your judgment. You then deliver the writ to the sheriff’s office in the
county in which the property is located. You must also give the sheriff written instructions, called“Instructions for
Levy”. These instructions describe the property, and tell the sheriff where it is located. The sheriff will require you
to deposit some money to pay the sheriff’s fees and cost. You will get your deposit ba
ck if the execution is successful.
Before the property can be sold, you have to check the Department of State’s internet website at
www.sunbiz.org to see if there are any judgment liens filed
under the name of the Judgment Debtor. You must also
check for creditors who have filed UCC security interest in the name of the Judgment Debtor at
. You must notify all of these people of the time and place of the sale. You then give the sheriff
a signed affidavit, on which you provide the information contained in all the judgment lien certificates filed against
the Judgment Debtor.
Once the notices have been sent, the sale must be properly advertised in
a local newspaper. Then at the designated time and place, the sheriff will sell the property at a public auction. You can bid
at the auction if you want to. The highest bidder for cash in hand pays the price to the sheriff and becomes the owner of the property.
The sheriff will pay out the money received from the sale in this order: First, the sheriff pays the
sheriff’s cost, and if the sale price covers this cost
, you will get your deposit back. Second, the sheriff pays you$500for your costs (whether you spent that much or not). Third, if somebody obtained a Judgment Lien before you did,
the sheriff pays that person before paying you. If others have filed before you, the sheriff pays everybody in the
order of filing. If the sheriff runs out of money before getting to you, you get nothing more. This explains why it is
such good idea to obtain a judgment lien as soon as possible. If no judgment liens have ever been filed, the sheriff
will pay you first and anything left over will go back to the judgment
debtor. But it’s still a good idea to file as soon
as possible. If you don’t, there is always a good chance that somebody might file during the execution process and
come in ahead of you.