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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.


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 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.


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 $30 fee deposit.


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.


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 $30 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.


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 $30 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 you.


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 $30 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 $85.

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 $220.

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.


To levy on real property, contact the Real Estate Section at 110 N. Grand Ave., Room 525, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 974-4827. Real estate levies can be complex and are handled exclusively by the Real Estate Section.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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