Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 29, 2019

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If you file an appeal of a judgment against you, keep in mind that your appeal does not necessarily prevent that judgment from being carried out. While the legal system gives parties an opportunity to appeal a judgment, it does not intend to do so as an avenue to avoid payment or sentencing. In order to postpone your judgment during an appeal, you must be granted a stay of judgment by a judge. If you are unable to obtain a stay of judgment, you may still file an appeal, but you may have to begin your sentence or pay your judgment regardless of the appeal process. Work with an attorney familiar with the appeals process for details on whether or not a judgment against you is delayed or executed while you await your appeal.

When Can I Be Permitted a Stay of Judgment?

If the basis for your appeal is that the judgment amount is excessive or that the opposing party was wrongfully granted the judgment, you should be able to obtain a stay of the judgment. The court will grant the terms of the stay, meaning that the court can set a specific date for the stay, conditions, and requirements that certain personal information be revealed in order for the stay of judgment to take place. To obtain a stay of judgment for a financial award during an appeal, you are usually required to file a bond that guarantees payment of a money award or otherwise indemnifies the party originally awarded damages.

A stay of judgment can be placed on any type of judgment, not just financial. Some examples of judgments that the court may postpone include restraining use of property, upholding an otherwise denied injunction, encumbering property with a lien, and selling property. Regarding the appeal of a criminal judgment, stays can also be applied to criminal cases so long as the defendant is admitted to bail. Criminal fees can also be stayed upon request. 

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How to Obtain a Stay of Judgment

You must petition for a stay of judgment on appeal and present an argument as to why your request should be granted. If your request is granted, the court will typically require some acts of good faith on the part of the person requesting the stay and filing the appeal. For example, if there is a money judgment owed, the appealing party may be required to post a bond for the amount. Additional requirements may involve selling a piece of land and placing the funds into an account, selling perishable property as needed, or filing a surety bond to cover any costs of the appeal.

Getting Legal Help with a Stay of Judgment

Deciding whether to appeal and whether to request a stay of judgment is a tricky decision that should be discussed with a litigation attorney. The wrong choice could result in the court finding your appeal frivolous and requiring that interest be added onto the cost of the judgment to cover the time taken for the appeal. When you file an appeal and request a stay of judgment, you must have adequate legal reasoning and argument that only an experienced attorney can provide.