Can I be arrested for not showing up to a civil court hearing?

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Can I be arrested for not showing up to a civil court hearing?

I received the first notice for a civil hearing and I know I can’t pay. I don’t have a job or income. On the front it says “attendance required” but can you be arrested for not showing up? And if they get judgement/default can I be arrested for not paying? Could they try and come after personal belongings? I don’t own anything in my name, no car, just a savings account with an exempt amount and personal belongings in my apartment..

Asked on June 19, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot be arrested for failing to come to a civil hearing on a lawsuit over a debt; you will lose by default (automatically) if you fail to appear, however.

You cannot be arrested for failing to pay a civil debt (there are certain narrow exceptions, like not paying court ordered child support, but as a general matter, you do not face arrest for failure to pay).

Personal property or belongings are potentially subject to be executed on, or seized and sold for the judgment creditor's benefit.


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