Writ of Execution-Money Judgements


WRIT OF EXECUTION/MONEY JUDGMENT

A Writ of Execution is used to enforce a money judgment. If you win your case and the judgment debtor does not pay you the amount owed within 30 days after entry of the judgment and there is no appeal pending, then you will have to place a levy on wages or property of the judgment debtor to collect the money owed to you. In order to levy you must first have the court issue a Writ of Execution/Money Judgment. For more information on how to collect a money judgment and get a writ issued you can go to the California Courts Online Self-Help website.
Click here to access the self-help website www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp.

Once the Writ of Execution/Money Judgment is issued by the court you will need to take it to the sheriff's Civil Division to have served. There are various types of methods used to collect money with a Writ of Execution/Money Judgment. You will need to instruct the Sheriff as to what method to use. The hyperlinks below are the most common methods. Click on the appropriate hyperlink to find the specific information you need and the fee for service of each type of levy.

BANK LEVY/GARNISHMENT

Court Document required Original Writ of Execution/Money Judgment plus three copies. If applicable: Spousal affidavit (original and two copies); fictitious business name statement (one certified copy plus two copies); affidavit of identity (three copies); court order authorizing a levy on a third person's bank account (original and two copies).

Purpose of Process To collect money owed through the judgment debtor's financial institution.
Sheriff's Instructions Use the Bank Levy/Garnishment instruction form.
Time for Service Before the writ of execution expires. The writ of execution expires 180 days after the issuance.

Manner of Service Personal Service.
Fee $35.00. This amount is added to the balance owing by the Sheriff before the levy is made and included in any payoff amount.
Proof of Service A proof of service is not issued. Instead, a return detailing the Sheriff's actions is prepared which accompanies the writ of execution when it is returned to the court. A copy of this is mailed to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.

Information Guide
A bank levy is made by a Sheriff's Deputy who serves a financial institution (bank, savings and loan, or credit union) a copy of the Writ of Execution/Money Judgment and a Notice of Levy requesting funds or property in all accounts and safe deposit boxes under the judgment debtor's name that are held by the financial institution.) The account number and/or social security number is not required to make the levy but this information is helpful in identifying accounts held by the judgment debtor. The levy must be served at the specific branch where the account is maintained and only attaches those funds in the account at the time of service. The financial institution is required to remit monies from the judgment debtor's account to the Sheriff within 10 days after the service of the garnishment or explain why funds will not be remitted. A copy of this explanation called a memorandum of garnishee is sent to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.

If the account is a joint account standing in the name of the judgment debtor and someone who is not a judgment debtor, the bank will provide the name and address of the person who is not the judgment debtor in a memorandum of garnishee that is sent to the Sheriff's Civil Division. The Sheriff's Civil Division will notify the person who is not the judgment debtor that they have 15 days to file a third party claim to contest the levy. If the person who is not the judgment debtor takes no action within the 15-day period, the sheriff's Civil Division will mail a notice to the bank directing the bank to remit the funds to the Sheriff.

If the funds in the judgment debtor's account are direct deposit social security or public benefits, the funds may be automatically exempt by law. A memorandum of garnishee received from the financial institution will indicate that these funds are direct deposit social security or public benefits. A copy of the memorandum of garnishee will be mailed to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney with instructions on how to oppose the exemption. If the judgment creditor does not oppose the exemption within l0 days from the mailing date on the letter of instructions, the Sheriff must release the levy.

A spousal affidavit is required to levy an account in the name of a spouse who is not a named judgment debtor, unless the account is shared with the judgment debtor.

An affidavit of identity is required if the account stands in an alias name of the judgment debtor that was added by the court when the clerk issued the writ.

The judgment debtor may file a Claim of Exemption with the Sheriff in an attempt to terminate the bank levy. The sheriff's Civil Division will mail a copy of the Claim of Exemption and instructions on how to oppose the Claim of Exemption to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney. If an opposition is not filed within 15 days, a notice to release the levy will be sent to the financial institution.
Once funds have been received by the sheriff's Civil Division, you will be notified by mail and a check will be mailed within 30 days for the amount received minus the sheriff's $12.00 processing fee. Pursuant to Government code 26746, a processing fee of $12.00 shall be collected on each disbursement of money paid to the judgment creditor. This fee is added on to the balance owed and paid by the judgment debtor.
Since the bank levy only attaches the funds in the account at the time of the levy, numerous levies can be made within a period of 180 days in an effort to collect the judgment in full. After the 180 days, the writ is returned to the court of issuance as expired and a new writ will have to be issued to levy again.

The Sheriff's responsibilities are limited to serving the levy and receiving and disbursing collected monies. The Sheriff cannot compel a financial institution to comply with the levy. If the financial institution does not comply, an order can be served on the financial institution to appear in court. Refer to CCP 708.120 which provides information for an order to examine the records of the financial institution.

EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER

Court Document required Original Writ of Execution/Money Judgment plus three copies. An Application for Earnings Withholding Order form.

Purpose of Process To collect money owed through the judgment debtor's wages.

Sheriff's Instructions You must use the Judicial Council form called Application for Earnings Withholding Order. You can get this form from the Sheriff's Civil Division or the form can be found on the California Courts Online Self-Help website under Small Claims/Collect Your Judgment/More Ways to Collect a Judgment. Click on the email address below to access the self-help website.
http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp

Time for Service Before the writ of execution expires. The writ of execution expires 180 days after the issuance.

Manner of Service Personal Service or Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested.

Fee $30.00. This amount is added to the balance owing by the Sheriff before the levy is made and included in any payoff amount.

Proof of Service A proof of service is not issued. Instead, a return detailing the Sheriff's actions is prepared which accompanies the writ of execution when it is returned to the court. A copy of this is mailed to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.

Information Guide
An Earnings Withholding Order is served at the judgment debtor's place of employment and requires an employer to withhold and remit up to 25% of the judgment debtor's disposable earnings (net income) to the Sheriff for payment to the judgment creditor. If the writ of execution is for spousal or child support, the withholding amount is 50%. The withholding period commences 10 days after the date of service. The employer must complete the employer's return within 15 days of the date of service and mail it to the sheriff's Civil Division. The employer's return should state the following:

  • If the person works there.
  • How often the person is paid.
  • The amount of the last pay period.
  • If there are any higher priority levies in effect.

A copy of the completed employer's return is mailed to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.

Once funds have been received by the Sheriff's Civil Division, you will be notified by mail and a check will be mailed within 30 days for the amount received minus the sheriff's $12.00 processing fee. Pursuant to Government code 26746, a processing fee of $12.00 shall be collected on each disbursement of money paid to the judgment creditor. This fee is added on to the balance owed and paid by the judgment debtor.
If the Earnings Withholding Order is not for spousal or child support, the judgment debtor may file a Claim of Exemption with the Sheriff in an attempt to terminate the wage levy or reduce the withholding amount. The Sheriff's Civil Division will mail a copy of the Claim of Exemption and instructions on how to oppose the Claim of Exemption to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney. If an opposition is not filed within 10 days, the wage levy will be modified or terminated.

An Earnings Withhold Order does not have an automatic termination date. It continues until the judgment is paid in full or the levy is terminated by court order or the creditor's instructions. The levy may continue for years under the one Writ and Earnings Withholding Order.

The Sheriff's responsibilities are limited to serving the Earnings Withholding Order and receiving and disbursing collected monies. The Sheriff cannot compel an employer to comply with the wage garnishment. If the employer does not comply, an order can be served on the employer to appear in court. Refer to CCP 708.120 which provides information for an order to examine the records of the employer.


KEEPER 8 HOUR

Court Document required Original Writ of Execution/Money Judgment plus three copies.

Purpose of Process To collect all monies on hand, future sales proceeds, and seize the judgment debtor's property in his business to satisfy a money judgment.

Sheriff's Instructions Use the Till Tap/Keeper Instruction forms.
Time for Service Before the writ of execution expires. The writ of execution expires 180 days after the issuance.

Manner of Levy The method of levy is to place a Sheriff's Keeper in the judgment debtor's business for 8 hours to prevent removal of property and to collect sales proceeds for payment to the judgment creditor.

Fee $225.00. This amount is added to the balance owing by the Sheriff and included in any payoff amount.
Proof of Service A proof of service is not issued. Instead, a return detailing the Sheriff's action is prepared that accompanies the writ of execution when it is returned to the court.

Information Guide
If the owner of a business has a money judgment against him and has not paid the judgment creditor, the judgment creditor can collect the money by having the Sheriff place a Keeper in the judgment debtor's business for 8 hours. A Keeper is a person contracted and/or employed by the Sheriff's Office to act as a custodian of property under levy. During the 8 hour period, the Keeper will seize incoming cash and checks from the sale of merchandise and prevent the removal of any stock or equipment unless paid for. The Keeper can prepare a written inventory of the property found at the business if requested. If further action is required to satisfy the judgment, the creditor may refer to the Keeper's inventory to have the Sheriff seize, move to storage, and sell some or all the property.

The debtor may claim the levied property is exempt if the debtor is an individual (not a corporation, partnership, etc.). If an exemption is filed, the Sheriff will mail a copy of the claim and instructions on how to oppose the claim exemption to the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney.
If the debtor is an entity (corporation, partnership, etc.), the writ must include the judgment debtor's legal entity, e.g., A-1 Auto, a corporation or Acme Sales, a partnership. The Sheriff cannot enforce a writ of execution that does not list the judgment debtor's legal entity. A "dba" (doing business as) is not a legal entity. For example, A-1 Auto dba A-1 Auto Parts does not list the legal entity. But, A-1 Auto, a corporation, dba A-1 Auto Parts is acceptable.
Once funds have been received by the Sheriff's Civil Division, you will be notified by mail and a check will be mailed within 30 days for the amount received minus the sheriff's $12.00 processing fee. Pursuant to Government code 26746, a processing fee of $12.00 shall be collected on each disbursement of money paid to the judgment creditor. This fee is added on to the balance owed and paid by the judgment debtor.

TILL TAP

Court Document required Original Writ of Execution/Money Judgment plus three copies.

Purpose of Process To collect money from a judgment debtor's business to satisfy a money judgment.

Sheriff's Instructions Use the Till Tap/Keeper Instruction forms.
Time for Service Before the writ of execution expires. The writ of execution expires 180 days after the issuance.

Manner of Levy Levy on and seize any money in the cash till or register in the business.

Fee $85.00. This amount is added to the balance owing by the Sheriff before the levy is made and included in any payoff amount.

Proof of Service A proof of service is not issued. Instead, a return detailing the sheriff's action is prepared that accompanies the writ of execution when it is returned to the court.

Information Guide
A Till Tap is a levy for all cash on hand at the time of levy. The sheriff's Deputy will take whatever money is in the cash till or register and leave. Since the Till Tap only attaches the funds at the time of the levy, numerous Till Taps can be made within a period of 180 days in an effort to collect the judgment in full. After the 180 days, the writ is returned to the court of issuance as expired and a new writ will have to be issued to levy again.
The debtor may claim the levied property is exempt if the debtor is an individual (not a corporation, partnership, etc.) If an exemption is filed, the Sheriff will mail a copy of the claim and instructions on how to oppose the claim exemption to the creditor.

Once funds have been received by the Sheriff's Civil Division, you will be notified by mail and a check will be mailed within 30 days for the amount received minus the sheriff's $12.00 processing fee. Pursuant to Government code 26746, a processing fee of $12.00 shall be collected on each disbursement of money paid to the judgment creditor. This fee is added on to the balance owed and paid by the judgment debtor.

VEHICLE LEVY

Court Document required Original Writ of Execution/Money Judgment plus three copies.

Purpose of Process To seize and sell the judgment debtor's vehicle to satisfy a money judgment.

Sheriff's Instructions Use the Vehicle Levy instruction form. The make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle must be on the instruction form.

Time for Service Before the writ of execution expires. The writ of execution expires 180 days after the issuance.

Manner of Levy The method of levy is for the Sheriff to seize, store, and sell the judgment debtor's vehicle at a public auction.

Fee $1000.00 or more depending on the vehicle.

Proof of Service A proof of service is not issued. Instead, a return detailing the Sheriff's action is prepared that accompanies the writ of execution when it is returned to the court.

Information Guide
The creditor may instruct the Sheriff to seize, store and sell a vehicle in the possession of the judgment debtor to collect money owed. However, the Sheriff cannot enter a private place such as a garage to seize the vehicle without a private place order issued by the court pursuant to CCP 699.030.

Once the vehicle has been seized, it will be towed and stored at the location of the tow company that seized the vehicle until the vehicle is sold. The reason the fee for a Vehicle Levy is so high is because of the cost to tow and store the vehicle for at least 10 days prior to the sale. The Sheriff does not control the fees charged by a tow company which is a private company that tows and stores the vehicle.

Notice of sale of the vehicle must be given by posting written notices in 3 public places in the city that the vehicle is to be sold. The notices of sale must be posted for not less than 10 days prior to the sale. The sale is done at public auction at the date, time, and location stated in the sale notice. The vehicle is sold to the highest bidder.

The Sheriff must notify the vehicle's legal owner of the seizure. A legal owner (bank, credit union, etc.) may file a third party claim based on a security interest (loan) with an unpaid balance. The vehicle must be returned to the legal owner unless the creditor pays off the claim.

If the vehicle seized is the only vehicle registered to the judgment debtor, there is an automatic exemption of $2,300.00 (CCP 704.010 and 701.620). Which means that when the vehicle goes to sale, the minimum bid will include the amount of the exemption, $2,300.00, plus any labor liens, state tax liens, and any third party claim payoff. This $2,300.00 will be given to the judgment debtor for the automatic exemption. If no bid is received which exceeds the minimum bid, the vehicle is released back to the judgment debtor. The creditor may bid at the auction by applying any or all of the creditor's judgment.

Once funds have been received for the sale of the vehicle by the Sheriff's Civil Division, you will be notified by mail and a check will be mailed within 30 days for the amount received minus the sheriff's $12.00 processing fee. Pursuant to Government code 26746, a processing fee of $12.00 shall be collected on each disbursement of money paid to the judgment creditor. This fee is added on to the balance owed and paid by the judgment debtor.