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Collecting on a Restitution Award in a Restraining Order Case

Los Angeles, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

At a hearing on 8/11, I was awarded a 6-month restraining order against the defendant, who was also ordered to pay $384 in property damages and $3,000 in attorney fees by 11/11/2013. The defendant did not pay, but instead left the state of California. There is a separate warrant for his arrest in CA on misdemeanor charges, which I expect him to try to clear up in the next few months. The above-referenced attorney is not involved with the collection efforts on the monetary award; (a) what is my next move to try and collect, (b) what steps can I take to improve the odds of collection, and (c) what kind of trouble can the defendant get in here in CA for not paying, or in NV where he is under a sentence requiring that he "stay out of trouble."

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Contact a collection attorney or collection company. It is impossible to say what your odds of collecting are. It doesn't sound like he has a lot of money to collect. As far as what kind of trouble he can get into, there is no telling on that either. It sounds like he is constantly in trouble in one form or another so it will all catch up with him eventually - to what extent it is hard to say. It sounds like you should be happy he is gone. Good luck to you.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

Are there attorneys or companies who would pursue the $3,384 on a contingency basis so I don't incur any more out-of-pocket expenses I can't afford, to collect against "remote odds?" If so, any referrals? If not, how can I pursue this pro se?

Christine James

Christine James

Posted

An attorney probably wouldn't due to the amount. A collection company might.

Asker

Posted

Know any decent ones you could refer? Thx.

Christine James

Christine James

Posted

No - I recommend trying Yelp and/or Google

Posted

Generally speaking, it's hard to collect money on a judgment against somebody who doesn't have substantial assets. And since most judgments are dischargeable in bankruptcy, you could spend a fair amount of time and money trying to collect and end up with nothing.

If you really want to collect, the next step is probably a judgment debtor examination. A judgment creditor can obtain an order requiring the judgment debtor to appear for an examination regarding assets that can be used to satisfy the judgment. If the judgment debtor fails to appear, the judge may issue a warrant for his arrest.

But obtaining such an order requires that the judgment creditor personally serve the judgment debtor with notice. This likely means hiring a process server in the state where he now lives. Before you decide whether to start throwing good money after bad, you may want to consult with a collection attorney.

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1 comment

Asker

Posted

You may not be considering one point, which is that this is a family law judgment not a civil or small claims judgment -- does that matter? Because I believe in this case I am entitled to file immediately for a contempt order or something to that effect. What do you think?

Posted

It sounds like you should contact a collections attorney. Most work off of a contingency fee - thus, if the can't collect, you are not out of pocket any of the costs associated with the collection efforts. However, without any substantial assets, trying to collect will be an uphill battle that most attorneys will not want to take on. Good luck.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

Know any that might take it?

Kevin Albert Adams

Kevin Albert Adams

Posted

Without more facts, i don't. Sorry. However, you should be able to type in "collections" in the search tab and a list of attorneys practicing in that area should appear. Good luck.

Posted

This is a difficult situation since he left the state. You would have to register your restitution award in NV to collect it there. Once registered NV, you can do the debtor's exam which another lawyer described. These steps are not easy so the suggestion that you find a collection attorney or agency is very valid.

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6 comments

Asker

Posted

He's in GA now but he will be back in CA in December. I believe I just need to file something seeking a contempt order in the restitution case -- does that sound right, and what is the name of the motion I have to file? I'd be content to have a collections attorney handle this on contingency, but I don't know if anyone would take it for $3,400 -- thoughts?

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Posted

Contact Financial Credit Network, Inc., in Visalia, CA. They have hundreds of small cases in Santa Barbara for very small amounts, like $2500. Number is 559 733 7550. If they turn you down, let me know.

Asker

Posted

If they have an email or website contact, that would be even better, but is it fair to say that the order having been made in connection with a Family Law restraining order award, or the pending vandalism case in which there will likely be another $3k awarded, offers greater likelihood of collection than a typical small claims case? I'd think that, all other things equal, the threat of contempt of court / jail would have more defendants finding some way to make the payments? (at least I hope so?)

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Posted

You have some good leverage given the facts. I don't have a web contact or email for them. Sorry.

Asker

Posted

no problem - and I'll assume they will handle a case in LA county. thanks

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Matthew Mackenzie Clarke

Posted

They are all over the state. I am defending a client they sued over a small amount.

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