Can I Go to Jail for Not Repaying a Debt?

Debtors’ Jail…

Debtors’ jails were used in Western Europe during the 19th century for persons that could not repay debts. However, during modern times, these institutions have been generally outlawed and are no longer used, as bankruptcy laws have granted debtors leniency. Nevertheless, debt collectors (and scam artists alike) oftentimes prey on public fears and misconceptions, ensuring that they do indeed exist to a degree. Once a debtor is on the phone, an unscrupulous creditor can spook an individual into believing that he or she will go to jail if they simply do not repay his or her delinquent debt. WRONG! Unless a person has fraudulently written a bad (“hot”) check and a creditor has filed charges against that individual for check fraud, then that person will not be arrested for falling behind on a debt, which is due a regular creditor. However, an individual could potentially go to jail for not making child support or tax payments.

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When an individual receives a threat to be arrested and thrown in jail, it is usually a bogus or illegal attempt to secure payment by a debt collector or scam artist. However, when a debtor does go to jail for a debt, it is usually attributable to them being sued for an outstanding obligation, receiving a court summons, ignoring it, and subsequently, being held in contempt of court. If you receive a notice to appear in court, DO NOT IGNORE the notice or simply blow it off. Hire an attorney to assess, address, and protect your interests immediately. In addition to being held in contempt of court, and a warrant being issued for your arrest (after ignoring a summons), the judge is likely to grant the party that has sued you a default judgment. This means that you will be required to pay the amount that you were sued for, without having had an opportunity to state your case or why you cannot pay in open court.

If you are receiving harassing calls, emails, and/or letters from debt collectors, and you haven’t spoken to a bankruptcy attorney just yet, contact REFUGE Law to put an end to the madness. Make an appointment to speak with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys. Bankruptcy can help give you relief from your financial worries. Call us today at (404) 618-2733 in Georgia, (713) 570-6377 in Texas, to discuss.