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What Happens When You Receive a Warrant in Debt?

Man in debt

If you receive a warrant in debt, the first thing you need to do is to remain calm. While any legal proceeding can be scary, the best course of action is to educate yourself so you understand what the warrant means, and the potential ramifications. You probably have many questions bout a warrant in debt. If so, you're in the right place. Here is everything you need to know about this legal action, how it applies to you, and what you should do about it.

What is a warrant in debt?

According to MCP Legal, a warrant in debt is a legal notification that informs you that you are being sued by a creditor to recover an outstanding debt that they allege you owe. It is an expedited motion for judgment that is a summons to appear in court on the date and time printed on the warrant. While the very word warrant can be frightening, it's an outdated term that could better be said as a notification to appear in court. The warrant is essentially a notification of a lawsuit and it means that someone you owe a debt is suing you to recover the funds.

What should you do if you receive a warrant in debt?

Since legal action is being filed against you, it's in your best interest to follow up on the claim. The course of action that is best depends on your situation. Ignoring the warrant is never recommended. You have several options, and although you are not legally required to take action you should respond in some way, and the sooner, the better.

Hire an attorney

You may hire n attorney to appear in court and represent you. This will release you from any obligation to appear in court personally. If there is any question or doubt about the legitimacy of the action, the attorney may under some circumstances be able to dispute the debt. If the plaintiff cannot provide sufficient evidence of legitimacy, the attorney may be able to have the suit dismissed or to establish that payment has been made and discharge your obligation on the amount stated by the plaintiff.

You can appear in court Pro Se

You do not need to have a lawyer to appear in court and defend yourself. You must bring clear evidence in writing that shows you are not obligated to pay the debt, or proof of payment so the judge can consider both sides of the situation. Decisions are made on a clear presentation of the facts and not on hearsay or allegations.

Settle with the plaintiff

If the courts issue a judgment against you, the plaintiff may collect on the obligation in addition to the collection of additional costs such as court and attorney fees and interest charges. You generally have the option to offer the plaintive a smaller lump sum payment to have the claim withdrawn, and possibly clear the debt, avoiding court proceedings.

File for bankruptcy

Filing a bankruptcy petition and presenting evidence to the court will freeze any financial proceedings taken against you by a plaintiff. Your bankruptcy attorney may present this evidence to the court on your behalf.

Disregard the warrant

According to AF Morgan Law, you have the option of ignoring the warrant, but this means that the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff and issue a judgment against you for the amount claimed along with collection costs, interest, and litigation fees. You waive your right to challenge the claim by ignoring the warrant. Garnishment and seizure of your property may ensue unless you file for bankruptcy and provide the court with evidence of your petition.

Can you be arrested for unpaid credit debts? addresses this question and confirms that no, you cannot be jailed because you don't pay a credit card debt or a bill that you owe. The old days of debtor's prison are over. You can, however, be jailed if you fail to pay any court fines that are incurred. You must follow court orders regarding a debt or you may be subject to penalties that include jail time. Failure to pay court fines is a separate issue though, that has nothing to do with failure to pay a credit card or most other kinds of debt.

What if you can't afford to pay a debt?

While the courts may be sympathetic with your situation, there is little that they can do to help you get a legitimate debt discharged. Once the claim is filed, you will need to take one of the actions listed above to try to resolve the situation.

Final thoughts

If you receive a Warrant of Debt, the best thing to do is stay calm and consider your options. While it's stressful to be sued, keeping a calm head and reviewing the facts about the case is your best alternative. If the debt is not legitimate, you must have evidence that proves the claim is unjust, and present it to the judge. You can hire an attorney to do so, or appear in court yourself. If the debt is not justified there is a chance that if you have the right evidence, or if the plaintiff has a weak case, the suit may be dismissed, and you will be discharged from the debt. If the debt is legitimate, try to come to a solution for payment that the plaintiff will accept to save the costs of going to court. If you do owe the debt and there is no way you can resolve the issue, then your best course of action may be to file for bankruptcy protection. Filing the petition for bankruptcy halts all financial actions against you and gives you to reorganize your personal affairs. If you're still not sure which course of action is best for you, it's wise to consult with an experienced attorney to get the answers you're looking for.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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