Business Article

Debtors Prison? By Jeffrey J. Needle, Esq.
The Needle Law Group 

In the 1830”s America abolished debtor prisons wherein individuals were sent to jail for not paying their obligations.  However to this day, potential clients contact our firm and ask if their delinquent customers can be jailed for their failure to satisfy their financial obligations.  The answer is “no” (although some “bad check” and “civil theft” statutes allow for certain criminal charges to be brought).  Even though non-payment of a debt is no longer grounds for imprisonment, Defendants can nonetheless be jailed in civil cases for violating court orders based on the Judge’s discretion and the laws in your jurisdiction.  

In a recent case for breach of a lease, the defendants (husband and wife in this case) had a summary final judgment entered against them and were ordered to complete financial affidavit and fact sheet.  They both failed and refused.  Although both were represented by counsel, they failed to comply with a court order compelling them both to complete their own individual affidavits and fact sheets.  When an order to show cause was entered by the Judge, the defendants were given once last opportunity to adhere to the courts order and when they failed to appear for the order to show cause, they were both held in contempt. Neither defendant purged the contempt by the deadline and a writ of bodily attachment was issued by the Judge for their arrest for failure to comply with a lawful court order.

Once the writ of bodily attachment paperwork was processed and submitted to the sheriff’s office for execution…..a phone call from their lawyer was received with a substantial offer of settlement.  In a similar case the defendant was actually jailed and the judge set bail at the exact amount of the judgment entered .  The defendant posted cash bail….we then filed a motion for release of those funds to be applied towards the judgment previously obtained.

So although there is no longer a “debtors prison”, there are rules for compliance in every jurisdiction and when a defendant or any party for that matter fails or refuses to comply….there can be serious consequences that indirectly can lead to a successful collection effort. 

About Jeffrey J. Needle, Esq.

Mr. Needle hails originally from Washington, D.C. and before graduating from Nova Southeastern University Law School in 1995, Mr. Needle owned and operated Potomac Legal Support Services, Inc. a Washington, D.C. legal support services company providing, private investigation, skip tracing, debtor locating, asset locating services and process services to D.C. based attorneys and clients.

The Needle Law Group concentrates its resources on the representation of secured and unsecured creditors in Florida and nationwide since 1995. The practice is dedicated to handling collections from the initial demand through post judgment execution actions and domesticating foreign judgments. 

The firm represents retail and commercial creditors and existing Judgment holders and is an active member of the nationwide forwarding networks. To enhance our collection systems and to stimulate our growth, we are constantly updating our resources and training our professional staff in the latest industry resources.





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