CanI be arrested for a bad debt?

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CanI be arrested for a bad debt?

I had owed a company $800 about 10 years ago that I never paid and it got sold to a collection agency and now this lawyer for the agency is coming after me. When I was employed I met with the attorney (who hiked up the bill to now about $2000) and set up a payment plan which I made payments until I got laid off, then he garnished my bank account and took about $800 from that. Now he sent me a Interrogatories form to fill out which I never did and yesterday I received a citation stating if I do not show up to court on a certain day that I could face imprisonment. I want to know what my options are?

Asked on September 13, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

By a "citation" you mean for a civil lawsuit; that is you are being sued for the amount? If so, then no, you can't be arrested for not showing. If you do not show for a civil lawsuit, you will be in default and lose automatically, but you do not face criminal penalties. People do not go to jail for debt or owing money. If you had committed fraud that would be a crime. So, for example, if you tricked people into lending money with no intention to repay that would be different.

Note: Debt collectors may not threaten someone with jail or criminal charges and doing so can get them in trouble. In fact, you could sur them. Addtionally, they can not harass, threaten, intimidate, etc. It's the law - the "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act" (FDCPA).


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