Many of our clients and prospective clients have a very limited knowledge concerning their rights when they owe a judgment. Collectors and collection agencies manipulate people’s fear — they use intimidation and the knowledge that most people in New York do not record their telephone calls to intimidate people with blatant lies, or if not blatant lies then insinuating vague and unspecified negative consequences (such as “I would not want the NYC Marshal coming to my apartment if I owed a judgment.”).
The New York City Marshals’ Handbook of Regulations (available online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/html/marshals/mar1.html) provides an extensive explanation of what a NYC Marshal may and may not do to enforce a writ of execution with respect to a judgment.
A creditor with a judgment will typically seek to enforce its judgment against money, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and wages (though a wage garnishment is limited to 10% of wages). In terms of physical assets, real estate is always a high priority target of judgment enforcement. In addition, judgment creditors may seek to locate and have the marshal or sheriff execute upon high value personal property, such as vehicles, boats, business inventory, valuable jewelry collections, valuable antiques or artwork, etc.
In terms of physical assets — the normal and customary personal property that most people have in their house or apartment — such as furniture, a television, a radio, crockery, cutlery, linens, low-value decorative items, etc., these will typically be exempt — meaning that the judgment creditor will not get to take them and sell them to pay off a judgment. This means that normally a NYC Marshal will not take your possessions to pay off a judgment. To enforce a claim of exemption the judgment debtor (person owing the money) may need to go to Court and have a hearing before a judge if there is a dispute as to the exemption claim.
However, just because a judgment creditor may not seek to enforce its judgment against the stuff that you have in your home doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to live with outstanding and unsatisfied judgments against you. In a number of prior postings on this Blog and on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have covered discussed and evaluated strategies for dealing with judgments through the state court legal system or in through bankruptcy.
Please feel free to contact us at 888-867-8165 to schedule a free initial consultation.