If the judge decides in your favor, the clerk of the court will enter a judgment against the defendant. The
defendant should pay the money directly to you.
IF THE DEBT IS PAID
You must file a satisfaction of judgment with the clerk of the court within 15 days after the debt is paid.
IF THE DEBT IS NOT PAID
If the debt is not paid within a few days, make a demand upon the debtor by letter, telephone, or in person.
Making a demand could save you time and money.
ORDER FOR APPEARANCE OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR
If you do not know what property the defendant has or where it is located, you should take steps to obtain this
information. One way to ascertain the debtor's assets is to obtain an order for appearance of judgment debtor.
The order requires the debtor to appear in court to answer questions under oath concerning the debtor's property.
If the debtor fails to appear in court, the court may issue a warrant for debtor's arrest.
The order is obtained from the court clerk. The Sheriff will attempt to serve the order upon payment of a fee
deposit. Refer to the Civil Process page for fee amounts.
WRIT OF EXECUTION
If the judgment debtor does not pay the judgment, you may obtain a writ of execution from the court clerk. The
writ gives the Sheriff the authority to seize property of the judgment debtor and is valid for 180 days after its
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SHERIFF
You must give the Sheriff signed, written instructions to levy on (seize) and sell, if necessary, specific
property belonging to the debtor to satisfy your judgment. You may instruct the Sheriff to levy on property such
as wages, bank account, vehicle, place of business or real property.
The law requires the Sheriff to charge fees for each levy. You must pay a fee deposit, in advance, from which the
Sheriff will deduct fees. Fee deposits range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars to levy on a business. In
addition to the Sheriff's levy fee, other costs may include charges for moving and storage, towing, recording,
publishing in a newspaper, and keepers. Any unused portion of the fee deposit will be refunded. Sheriff fees are
added to your judgment and increases the amount the debtor must pay to fully satisfy the case.
EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER
To levy on the debtor's wages, you must give the Sheriff a completed application for earnings withholding order,
the writ of execution, and proper fee deposit.
The employer is required to remit up to 25% of the debtor's disposable (net) wages to the Sheriff(nonsupport
judgments). The withholding period begins 10 days after the earnings withholding order is served and continues for
up to 10 years. Within 15 days after service of the order, the employer is also required to mail a completed
employer's return to the Sheriff indicating the status and income of the defendant. A copy of the employer's
return will be mailed to you.
All wage levies are served by certified mail. When a wage levy is served the employer has 15 days to send us an
answer stating whether they are or are not going to honour the levy. Please allow at least 30 days for receipt of
your copy. If the creditor does not receive an answer from the employer, the creditor should contact the employer,
not the Sheriff. The employer is not to withhold any monies prior to ten days after the levy. After the 10 days
have expired, they are to withhold funds from the next pay check and forward them to the Sheriff It is not unusual
for it to take at least 60 days for the creditor to receive the first payment from the Sheriff The employer is to
withhold funds and forward them to the Sheriff until the levy has been satisfied or released. To release a levy,
we will need a letter from the attorney or plaintiff, if there is no attorney or an order from the court. The
Sheriff's fee is automatically added to the levy.
To levy on (garnish) a bank account, you must give the Sheriff signed written instructions indicating the name and
address of the bank (cross streets are unacceptable), the account number (if known) and the Debtors name and last
known address, as well as the original writ of execution, and proper fee deposit.
Within 10 days after service of the garnishment, the bank is required to remit any money in the account at the
time of levy, up to the amount of your judgment plus costs, to the Sheriff. The bank is also required to mail to
the Sheriff a completed memorandum of garnishee indicating the status of the account. A copy of the memorandum
will be mailed to you.
Bank levies are valid only for the monies that are in the bank account at the moment the bank receives the levy.
The bank will send us an answer, in approximately 10 days, stating the amount of funds, if any, that were
withheld. We will send the creditor a copy of that answer. If you do not receive a copy of the answer within
approximately 30 days, please contact the bank, not the Sheriff. The Sheriff's fee is automatically added to the
To levy on (garnish) a business, you must give the Sheriff signed written instructions indicating the name and
address of the business (cross streets are unacceptable, the writ of execution, and proper fee deposit. You may
instruct the Sheriff to seize money in the cash register (till tap) at the debtor's place of business at the time
You may instruct the Sheriff to place a keeper in the debtor's place of business for a period of time. The keeper
will collect all money received by the business and prevent the removal of equipment or inventory.
You may instruct the Sheriff to seize and sell the debtor's personal property (equipment and inventory) at the
debtor's business. A keeper may be installed to collect money and prevent the removal of any property until the
property is moved to storage. After giving 10 days’ notice of sale, the property will be sold at public auction.
REAL ESTATE LEVY
To levy on real property, contact the Sheriff’s Civil Division. Real estate levies can be complex. It is
recommended you hire an attorney who is familiar with the sale of Real Property to collect debt.
THIRD PARTY CLAIMS
Before instructing the Sheriff to levy on property, you should try to determine if it is wholly or partially owned
by someone else. For instance, a bank may be the legal owner of a vehicle. If so, the bank may file a third party
claim demanding payment of the amount owed on the vehicle. You will be notified of the third-party claim and given
the opportunity to pay the third party or post a bond. If you do not, the property will be released to the debtor.
CLAIM OF EXEMPTION
The debtor may claim that the property is exempt for a variety of reasons. The Sheriff will notify you if a claim
of exemption is filed. If you do not oppose the exemption, the property will be released.
ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT
You may place a lien on the debtor's real property by recording an abstract of judgment with the County Recorder.
The abstract of judgment is issued by the court clerk. The County Recorder will charge a recording fee. The
Sheriff does not record abstracts of judgment with the County Recorder.
All monies collected by the Sheriff are held for 15 days after being deposited. Money is then disbursed by the
Sheriff. Any inquiries regarding the payment of money must be directed to the Sheriff's Department Civil Division.
LEGAL NAME OF DEBTOR
The Sheriff cannot levy on a debtor's property unless the debtor is properly named. The legal name of the debtor
is very important. For instance, a fictitious business name (dba) is purely descriptive and is not a legal name.
If the writ of execution lists the debtor as "John Smith dba Smith Plumbing," the legal name of the debtor is John
Smith, not Smith Plumbing. . If the debtor is not a natural person (corporation, partnership, etc.), the writ must
include the debtor’s legal entity, e.g., A-1 Auto, a corporation or Acme Sales, a partnership. The Sheriff cannot
enforce a writ that does not list the debtor’s legal entity. A "dba" (doing business as) is not a legal entity.
For example, A-1 Auto dba A-1 Auto Parts does not list the legal entity. But, A-1 Auto, a corporation, dba A-1
Auto Parts is acceptable.