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.
APPLICATION AND ORDER FOR APPEARANCE AND EXAMINATION
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 Application and Order for Appearance and Examination. 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 and three copies 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 issuance.
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 $35 for a wage garnishment
to $3500 or more 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 one copy, and a $35 fee deposit.
The employer is required to remit 25% of the debtor's disposable
(net) wages to the Sheriff. 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
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, the writ of execution and two copies, and a $40 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.
You may instruct the Sheriff to seize money in the cash register
(till tap) at the debtor's place of business at the time
of levy. The fee deposit for a till tap is $100.
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. The fee deposit for an 8 hour keeper
installation is $300.
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.
The fee deposit is at least $1500 plus the estimated costs to move
and store property.
REAL ESTATE LEVY
To levy on real property, contact the Real Estate Section at 110
N. Grand Ave., Room 525, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 972-3950.
Real estate levies can be complex and are handled exclusively by
the Real Estate Section.
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
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 deposited into the county
treasury and held for 21 days under the financial control of the
County Auditor. Money is disbursed by the County Auditor, not the
Sheriff. The Sheriff is restricted from giving out the County Auditor's
telephone number. Any inquiries regarding the payment of money
must be directed to the appropriate Branch of the Sheriff's Department
handling your case.
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.