Skip to main content

Can I go to jail for not making my car payments?

Baltimore, MD |

I am behind on my car payments approx. 9 months. I believe they have a lawyer office calling me. What should I do? I won't be able to give them a lump sum of money but I can start making my payments next month. Is it too late? Do they have to take my car at this point?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    No, you cannot go to jail for nonpayment of a debt. Call the lawyer, or collection agent, or finance company (whomever is calling you--identify clearly who they are and who they represent), and negotiate. Without a payment arrangement, they will send someone out to repossess the car, which could involve their coming to your door and requesting that you voluntarily hand over the keys (which would save them the cost of re-keying the locks and ignition), or they will simply take the car while you are asleep in the wee hours of the night. Most finance companies do not want the car if they can get paid, but 9 months behind is a long time. if they repossess, they will resell the car, but may then sue you under the original loan/sales contract for the difference between what they sell it for and what you owed (plus attorney's fees, costs, etc.). If you can make repayment arrangements, and if the car is still worth what is owed, then you should try to work it out, thereby saving both your means of transportation, a possible law suit and judgment, and your credit. A lawyer may be able to assist, but this is something you may also be able to negotiate yourself. Good luck.

  2. Unless you are hiding the vehicle from the repo man, not making your payment isn't a crime. Call the lender right away to discuss payment arrangements. But if you haven't paid in 9 months, you may not have much credibility with the lender. Remember money talks.

    Hope this perspective helps!

  3. You cannot get arrested for not making car payments. The only way you may really risk going to jail is if you knowingly made payments with bad checks and the checks were returned as unpaid.

    You should call the lender to discuss payment options. If you do get calls about collecting the money, you can tell them to stop calling and to only communicate with you in writing so you have a record of the conversations.

    Legal disclaimer: Mr. Tabaku may be reached at (240) 750-4663 or Mr. Tabaku is an attorney licensed in the state of Maryland. This answer is for general information only based upon the facts stated in the question and does not create an attorney client relationship between Mr. Tabaku or Tabaku Law Firm, LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

  4. Hiding the car, after a court has ordered its return to the lender is called "Secreting Mortgaged Property", In NC that's a misdemeanor, and a jail-able offense. It is likely your state has a similar law, but as previous entries have clearly stated, non-payment is a civil problem, and there is no jail for breaching a contract.
    The other post have certainly provided you with excellent information, your next move is to follow it and either renegotiate the loan or voluntarily surrender the car.

    I am not your attorney, I do not represent you. This response is submitted for informational purposes only. This is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be taken as such. Anyone considering the above referenced situation should always consult an attorney within the jurisdiction before taking any action based on this, or any other information.

Car loan topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics