What action can be taken against me if I can’t pay restitution to a former employer that I stole from?

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What action can be taken against me if I can’t pay restitution to a former employer that I stole from?

Last year I made a mistake of stealing from my job and I got fired. But since it was only food and nothing of big value I wasn’t charged. I just have to pay back what I owe since Itold the truth. But I have been out of work for some time now and just got recently got back on my feet. I was wondering, if I’m unable to pay the debt in the amount of time they gave me would they just garnish my wages or would more actions take place?

Asked on October 8, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you haven't signed a document stating that your wages may be garnished in the event you fail to pay, then to collect against you, the former employer would need to sue you in court, to establish their right to payment. Once they do so, assuming they win, if you don't pay voluntarily at that point, they could use various mechanisms to enforce payment, such as seeking an order garnishing wages or bank accounts or executing on your property. Of course, it may well not be worth their time or money to sue you--whether they will go ahead depends on both how much you owe them (and how that compares to the cost of a lawsuit) and also emotional issues--how much, on a personal level, it matters to them to get restitution from you.


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