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Can I be arrested in the state of massachusetts for not paying a civil judgement if a creditor gets judgement against me?

Boston, MA |

If the plaintiff, creditor, wins judgement against me and I can't pay, can I be arrested? Also, I don't have a job or anything in my name besides my bank account with an exempt amount. Is it possible that they come after my bank account even if it holds an exempt amount? Is it possible for them to come after personal belongings (things in my apartment?) just want to know what to prepare for. thanks.

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Attorney answers 4


You can not be arrested if you do not pay a civil judgment off.

In my jurisdiction, the garnishment writ goes to the bank, then you get notice and then you can assert your exemption claims.

But, I am not licensed in MA, and for that type of particular legal advice, you need to consult with a MA lawyer.

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Yes and no.

You cannot be arrested if you actually have no money..

You can be arrested if you fail to report to court for a hearing, and if the other side obtains a "capias."

You can also be arrested if the judge believes that you have money, and is insufficiently convinced of your lack of contempt.

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Your creditor can take the execution to court for a supplementary process suit, at which the court will inquire into your finances. If you don't appear, or violate the court order from that hearing, you might be arrested.

Evaluating any legal question requires a detailed knowledge of the specific facts involved. Since a short question will rarely contain all the relevant facts, the answer here should be considered a general comment for your consideration and not legal advice.


Not satisfying a judgment alone will not likely get you arrested. If you wind up back in court over the judgment because the otherside is trying to collect, showing up and telling your story will not get you arrested--thogh it may not led to a good solution either. It all depends. If the other side seeks a complaint for contempt against you for not abiding by a judicial order and you show up in court to answer it, you could get incarcerated then and there. This step is usually very late in the game. You should also be careful about incurring more fees. If the otherside's lawyer has to keep chasing you in court, he/she can include a motion to allow their fees each time they have to go to court for you. If the judge thinks you have no good reason for why you haven't satisfied the judgment and/or is annoyed at you, the judge may allow costs. The other side can also take you to court for wage garnishment. Being unable to pay is not a defense to wage garnishment.